$1.5 mil grant will bring formal family planning training to Ethiopia

The University of Michigan, in association with St. Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College (SPHMMC) in Addis Adaba, will soon launch Ethiopia’s first formal family planning medical education training program. Made possible by the generous support of an anonymous donor, this two-year project proposes to establish a three-prong training program to improve and expand the provision of family planning and comprehensive abortion services in Ethiopia through the targeted education and team training of midwives, General Medical Practitioners, OBGYN residents and SPHMMC faculty.

The project is led by Dr. Senait Fisseha, Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division Director of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, and Medical Director at the Center for Reproductive Medicine at UM Health Systems. The U-M training team includes Dr. Vanessa Dalton and Dr. Jason Bell (both from OBGYN), Dr. Jody Lori, Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing, and Sarah Rominski, Research Associate at Global REACH.  Dr. Lia Tadesse, Vice Provost for Medical Services at SPHMMC, leads the Ethiopian partnership team.

Unsafe abortion is the leading cause of maternal mortality in Ethiopia; yet no formal family planning program currently exists in any of its medical or midwifery schools.  Moreover, the country’s medical education curriculum does not include any kind of formal training in abortion services for medical students other than classroom lectures on contraception.  This program is strategically designed to develop of a new generation of providers at every skill level and to enhance access to abortion and contraception services throughout the country, particularly in rural communities where the need is the greatest.

The project has three key objectives:

  1. Mainstream abortion and contraception training by developing a competency-based training specific to Ethiopia and integrating it into the medical curriculum at SPHMMC;
  2. Improve the midwifery and OBGYN faculty’s family planning expertise in clinical competencies and teaching skills to ensure high-level, competency-based family planning education and training in Ethiopia; and
  3. Mentor OBGYN residents and faculty through the development of operational and health services research and build research capacity.

Dr. Fisseha (center) is shown with the inaugural class of OBGYN residents at SPHMMC and U-M and Ethiopian colleagues.

Fisseha and her collaborators will lead a four-week faculty preparatory course and value clarification workshop in August 2012 prior to the initiation of the training program, which begins September 1, 2012.  The timing of the award and the start of the project is perfect, coming right on the heels of the inauguration of the first-ever post graduate training program for St. Paul – an OBGYN residency training program, which accepted its first seven residents in May.