December 01

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Hello from Ethiopia

I’m very happy to be on my PULSE assignment gaining many new experiences, relationships and perspectives.

I am based in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, at Jhpiego, an international, non-profit health organization and affiliate of Johns Hopkins University.  Jhpiego began working in Ethiopia in 2003 and currently partners with the Ministry of Health and local organizations to implement programs focused on improving the health of mothers and newborns.  Jhpiego-Ethiopia works in the areas of HIV/AIDS prevention, health systems strengthening, pre-service education, nutrition and family planning.  Jhpiego works in more than 50 countries with diverse partners to prevent the needless deaths of women and their families.  Developing low-cost innovations to address critical health challenges is the hallmark of Jhpiego’s mission to help countries deliver quality health care for their people.

Ethiopia has made great strides towards improving access to quality health services for its citizens.  Through implementation of the Governments Health Sector Development Program (HSDP), now in its fourth phase, and a commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, there has been a rapid expansion of health facilities and health training institutions, resulting in an increase in health service delivery.

Despite the progress made, the country continues to face challenges in the production, deployment and retention of its health workforce.  These include the capacity and quality of pre-service education and in-service training, disparate rural-urban distribution of the health workforce, high attrition rates, and inadequate human resources management.  There is also an underdeveloped regulatory capacity needed to support critical functions such as accreditation and licensure of the health workforce.

My role is communications manager and the project that I am assigned to involves strengthening human resources for health.  The Strengthening Human Resources for Health (HRH) project is a five year (2012 – 2017) bilateral cooperative agreement with an overall goal of improving the human resources for health status in Ethiopia.  Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the “Investing in People” category of the foreign assistance framework, the project is contributing to the Government of Ethiopia’s (GOEs) efforts to build or strengthen local capacity for comprehensive and sustainable systems for developing and for managing human resources for health.  The project is being implemented by a Jhpiego-led consortium of implementing partner organizations Management Sciences for Health (MSH), the Ethiopian Midwives Association (EMA), the Ethiopian Association of Anesthetists (EAA), and the Open University (OU), in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH).

The Ethiopian people are wonderful and value family and community, religion, and have a high work ethic.    They have helped me settle in quickly and have made me feel most welcome for which I am very grateful.  I am learning to speak Amharic and this helps a lot with communication and integration.

Some of the extraordinary experiences I am having so far include enjoying the Ethiopian New Year (Happy 2007! – There are 13 months in the Ethiopian calendar, makes you think how arbitrary time is….it’s nice to be 7 years younger), the Ethiopian Religious festival ‘’Meskel’’ Finding of the True Cross where a colleague in the office kindly got me a rare ticket to see the procession and ceremony conducted in Meskel Square where there were hundreds of Sunday school children and religious leaders singing and dancing to music.  Attending a reception and meeting the President of Ireland when he was in Ethiopia in early November.

More soon…