CIRHT: Ethiopia-Michigan Collaboration on a Global Scale

Addis Ababa University and the University of University organized the third annual Ethiopia-Michigan Collaborative Consortium in Addis Ababa, July 12-14, 2017.

ADDIS ABABA–At an environmental conference center above Addis Ababa, some 160 academics, researchers, students and staff from 23 Ethiopian institutions and the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI, USA) gathered for three days of dialogue and information-sharing. The third annual Ethiopia-Michigan Collaborative Consortium meeting included members of the medical, engineering, public health, nursing, art history, informatics and other communities – a wide range of collaboration going back many years.

One of the most important of Ethiopia-Michigan Collaborative Consortium is the Center for International Reproductive Health Training (CIRHT), which since 2014 has been working with medical schools across the country developing pre-service family planning training for health care professionals – doctors and midwives – to help reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.

The partnership has deep roots. Dr. Senait Fisseha first began her work at St. Paul’s Hospital and Millennial Medical College in 2011. The focus was to decrease the high maternal mortality rate due to unsafe abortion in Ethiopia by integrating pre-service training on comprehensive reproductive health into the medical school curriculum. At that time, Dr. Tedros Adhanom was the country’s health minister. He implementing capacity-building for equity in health care access, overseeing the training and deployment of 38,000 health extension workers, “with women at the core,” and the expansion of medical education – from three medical schools with 120 annual graduates to 33 medical schools with 3,000 graduates across the country.

The impact of Dr. Tedros’s work inspired Dr. Senait to incorporate those same values in CIRHT’s mission of improving family planning training for medical students. They both also understood the connection between family planning and economic empowerment for the families in Ethiopia.

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As a result of her initial work in Ethiopia the Federal Ministry of Health rewarded her efforts by awarding her its highest health sector award in 2013.

With their common vision, Dr. Senait introduced Dr. Tedros to key leaders at the University of Michigan, which laid the foundation of greater partnership between U-M and universities and medical schools throughout Ethiopia though CIRHT, founded in 2014. Dr. Senait’s imperative was to turn that personal relationship into an institutional relationship that would last into the future. And she was practical. “How can we form a partnership that can actually solve society’s problems?”

To date, CIRHT has partnered with ten of the schools encompassing 11 teaching hospitals in Ethiopia, which have trained hundreds of faculty, students, residents and soon, fellows, creating tools and capacity, and adhering to research- and evidence-based health practice, all signatures of Dr. Tedros’s tenure and Dr. Senait’s vision.

Read the complete story at The University of Michigan
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