Rochester, MN, February 20, 2016 (GMN) - Thanks to the Gambella People’s National Regional State Administrative Council of Ethiopia for allowing me to practice at Gambella Regional State Health Bureau and Gambella Hospital.

It was the best opportunity to fulfill my sacred promise to observe and become a part of the health care system of the greatest Gambella Region. I take great pride in our Region and I think it is the duty of every citizen to support the ongoing development of the Region. I was excited to do my share in helping such a crucial part of our Region and got the best practice and life experience.

I wish to thanks my preceptor Nena Okello Omod for his support and patience; your firm direction has been much appreciated for guides me throughout my practicum at the Gambella Regional Health Bureau and assigned me with interdisciplinary team: Obenna Okello and Amenu Shiferaw, you guys rock my times and I enjoyed working with you on medical field trip throughout Gambella’s districts.

Absolutely, my appreciation also goes to everyone who is involved in supporting me during practice in Gambella Regional State.

The mission of the practicum was to prepare and educate students to promote health and well-being as public health practitioners through excellence in teaching, research, and service in preparation for leadership opportunities in a diverse and global society through a student-focused learning environment. As a one of the natives from the region, I have privilege to serve my community and great opportunity to obtain the best experience and learned about Gambella Regional’s health care system while giving back to the community in much appreciated way. I have gained knowledge, and life experiences and participated in staff meeting with the board member to address public health need in case of outbreak and emergency situation.

Practicum took place in the Gambella Region located on the Western tip of Ethiopia's border with the Republic of South Sudan. Is one of the poorest and marginalized regions of Ethiopia; it has been experiencing ongoing food insecurity and health issues in recent years due to the influx of South Sudan refugees. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Health Report (WHR), Ethiopia has a total of only 1936 medical doctors which is equivalent to about 2.6 per 100,000. Globalization is said to affect the country with many educated professionals leaving Ethiopia for a better economic opportunity in the West (International development partnerships 2012). Average life expectancy at birth is also relatively low at 51.8 (50.5 for males and 53.1 for females) and is further expected to decline to 49.4 years if present HIV infection rates continue.

My first choice at the Gambella Hospital was to observe HIV/AIDS and malaria patients because Gambella Region was one of the top nine Regions in Ethiopia devastated by HIV/AIDS virus due to a lack of knowledge about the disease and how it is transmitted, prevented, and lack of use different methods.

Health education is the best way to teach the Gambella’s rural communities, be able to learn and take care of other family's members. During my practice in the Gambella Region, I have made well-established relationship with indigenous people of Gambella Region, Federal Ministry of Health, and Gambella Peoples Regional State Health Bureau. Medical field trip was the best part of my practice, I observed many cases, given districts health educational programs, supporting development plans, and trained health care workers. It’s really quite a different experience from the Western World. My practice at Gambella Hospital and districts was focused on Guinea Worm disease, HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and acute child malnutrition as well as primary and secondary preventive care. I had very valuable experiences through Gambella Hospital in different departments and other practice settings. The interdisciplinary teams, medical director from the hospital, and my preceptor have been very influential in my practice and have provided an example of how I would work as a public health practitioner in the future.

Working at the Gambella Hospital and other parts of the Gambella’s districts have given a lot of opportunities to learn about health care system in the Region and all of the staff were very supportive and would be willing to help if I needed more assistant. However, shortage of health care profession has been a major challenges in the Region and only one Hospital served the entirely Gambella Region with 13 medical doctors, 4 midwifery, and 91 nurses. According to the Gambella’s profile; Gambella Region is in the progress making with 1 current Hospital and 3 under construction, 30 Health center with 1 under construction, and 129 Health post. In fact, Regional Government and Federal Ministry of Health had built public health center throughout the rural community and each district has its own health center and health extension just to provide Coartem (anti malaria medications) and other drugs.

Gambella Peoples Regional Health Bureau’ indicated that those health center had provides health care with low cost but due to influx of South Sudan refugees sometimes the health center would run out of medical supplies. According to the status of the refugee, a total of 247,914 South Sudanese were located in the region from which 192,734 were new arrival after post conflict in South Sudan while 57,180 refugees were those previously residing in Ethiopia.

Finally, it is not new for health care professional to see 20 patients in one day with multiple being double booked in the same time slot in the western countries but in Ethiopia, health care professional allowed to see 25 patients in the morning and 15 in the afternoon which is total 40 patients per day. On my observation we have seen 45-50 patients in the morning and 30-35 patients in the afternoon that tends to cause a lot of patient dissatisfy and burden on health care professional. I am glad that I had the opportunity to work in this environment and pretty sure there are positive and negative at any health care institution around the World.

Thank you and May peace prevail in the Gambella Regional State of Ethiopia.  

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind!

                 “Mahatma Gandhi”



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