Thanks (Ameseginalehu in Amharic) to Dr. Girum Hailu Maheteme’s connections and efforts, we were surprised and excited to learn that we had a meeting planned with Ethiopia’s newly appointed Minister of Health, Professor Yifru Berhan. With the help of our expert driver, we navigated through the city streets of Addis Ababa and arrived at the Ministry of Health very quickly. We were ushered up to a board room where we could set up the A/V for our presentation and see the cityscape. Dr. Girum and Mr. Abraham Abegaz joined us and shortly after, his excellency, the Minister of Health joined us. Dr. Block, Sean and Doran expertly presented our team’s experience, our initial research findings and our plans for our time in country. Following this, the Minister asked some thoughtful questions, then stated his support for the project and encouraged our team to consider the unique opportunities available for this type of initiative. The Minister was wonderful and the team was very grateful for the face-to-face meeting on such short notice. The prospect of horseback riding and golf with some important local influencers was also offered to the team and if possible with our schedule, we may be able to squeeze these activities in! Very exciting!!
With the support of the Minister, our team was even more charged to tackle this enormous challenge of setting up a Regional Cancer Center of Excellence in Ethiopia to serve the IGAD region. After a ‘quick’ lunch, the team de-briefed and was off again, this time to Zewditu Hospital, an inner city general hospital. Here we met with Dr. Adamu Addissie who is the director of the School of Public Health. As well, Dr. Adamu also is an expert in ethics and is heavily involved in training and research in the area of public health in Ethiopia. The team was hosted with kolu and delicious coffee and tea, while we discussed the intricacies of health care, informed consent, palliative care and human resources in developing countries. This meeting lasted into the early evening, and the team debriefed quickly at the hotel before heading out for a bite to eat close to the hotel.
All in all, an exciting, grounding day that put into perspective the challenges and realities of our developing plan. Based on today’s developments, I am eager to see how our trip and business plan evolves as we collect information and first-hand experiences!