Ethiopia Platform

More than ten Schools and Colleges across the University of Michigan have collaborative projects underway with colleagues in Ethiopia, making it one of the fastest emerging platforms of engagement in both the Medical School and the broader University. The original collaborations between St. Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College (SPHMMC), the Federal Ethiopian Ministry of Health, and UMMS have expanded to include the Schools of Business, Natural Resources and Environment, Graduate Studies, and Nursing, as well as the College of Engineering.

Senait Fisseha, MD, JD

Native Ethiopian, Senait Fisseha, MD, JD, Adjunct Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has served as a catalyst for many of these partnerships and has been the conduit to efforts engaging with partners in Ethiopia, opening doors to communications with leaders at various medical schools, hospitals, and within the Ministry of Health. Within the Medical School, projects with Ethiopian colleagues range from family planning to faculty development; organ transplantation to surgical simulation; and medical education and post-graduate training to heart disease in pregnancy. 

Nearly 50 Ethiopian faculty and several high-ranking officials have visited the UM campus over the past few years.  Dignitaries in 2014 and 2015 include the Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu; Agizew Nigussie Engida, Chair, Water Master Plan Committee, City of Addis Ababa; Bikila Teklu Wodajo, Dean, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, AAiT; Frehiwot Woldehanna Bayou, Chair of Biomedical Engineering Department, AAiT; Kassahun Tesfaye Geletu, Director of IoB; Young Kyun Kim, Director of AAiT; Milliard Derbew, College of Health Sciences, School Of Medicine; and Dr. Zerihun Abebe, Provost, St. Paul’s Hospital Millenium Medical College.

In addition, approximately 150 University of Michigan faculty, staff and students have traveled to Ethiopia over the past three years to participate in educational, research, and clinical activities. In January 2015, the EM-PACE Symposium drew more than 20 UM community members to Addis Ababa


View list of Global REACH Faculty Associates collaborating in Ethiopia here.

Center for International Reproductive Health Training 

Lia Tadesse Gebremedhin, MD, MHA

A generous award of $25M to the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology from an anonymous foundation has supported the creation of the Center for International Reproductive Health Training (CIHRT) at UMHS. CIRHT’s central aim is to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. The Center’s initial focus is in Ethiopia, where it aims to integrate family planning training in eight medical schools across the country.  The training program was officially launched in Ethiopia in February 2015. Once success with the program has been demonstrated in Ethiopia, CIHRT will expand its efforts to implement the training model in medical schools across Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Dr. Senait Fisseha had been leading the CIRHT until she was selected to serve as Director of International Programs for the Susan Buffet Foundation. Lia Tadesse Gebremedhin, MD, MHA has taken over as the CIRHT Executive Director and Principle Investigator.  Dr. Tadesse has come to the University of Michigan from St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College in Ethiopia, where she served as a Vice-Provost and Assistant Professor in OB/GYN.

“There have been many efforts to improve women’s health in Ethiopia, but there are still significant gaps. CIRHT will help fill some of those gaps by preparing future doctors, nurses and midwives to care for girls and women and save lives.”
—Lia Tadesse Gebremedhin, MD, MHA

Press releases about CIRHT

Original press release:

First Phase Begins with students at Eight Ethiopian Medical Schools: February 6, 2015 Press Release

Collaborative Programs

Family Training Program:

  • Senait Fisseha (front, far right) and Ethiopian OBGYN residents in the inaugural class of the SPHMMC OBYGN residency program

    The University of Michigan, in association with St. Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College (SPHMMC) in Addis Ababa, launched Ethiopia’s first formal training program in family planning. Made possible by the generous support of an anonymous donor, the two-year, $1.5M project is establishing 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 was established by Dr. Senait Fisseha, (now Adjunct) 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 UM training team includes Drs. Vanessa Dalton and Jason Bell (both from OBGYN), Dr. Jody Lori, Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing, Dr. Cheryl Moyer, Research Investigator in the Department of Learning and Health Sciences and Associate Director of Global REACH, and Sarah Rominski, Senior Research Associate at Global REACH.  Dr. Lia Tadesse, who was Vice Provost for Medical Services at SPHMMC, led the Ethiopia team but is now at the University of Michigan and serves as lead for the project.
  • The project has three key objectives:
    -  Mainstream family planning training by developing competency-based training specific to Ethiopia and integrating it into the medical curriculum at SPHMMC;
    -   Improve Midwifery and OBGYN family planning expertise in clinical competencies and teaching skills to ensure high-level, competency-based family planning education and training in Ethiopia; and
    -  Mentor OBGYN residents and faculty through the development of operational and health services research and build research capacity.

In November 2014, the same donor who funded the Family Planning Training Program more than doubled the original award to make SPHMMC a Center of Excellence for Reproductive Health and start a fellowship program for physicians who have demonstrated a commitment to family planning and abortion services.   Read more here.

Residency and Subspecialty Training Programs:
Through collaboration with UMMS, new programs have been developed at SPHMMC in Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Surgery, Ob/Gyn, and Radiology.  Residency programs under development include: Ophthalmology, Pathology, Orthopedic Surgery, Psychiatry, Otolaryngology, Maxillofacial Surgery, Anesthesiology, and Emergency Medicine. Subspecialty / fellowship training programs have been developed at SPHMMC in: Maternal Fetal Medicine/High risk OB, Cardiology, Gastroenterology, Nephrology, Transplant, Pediatric Cardiology, Pediatric Neonatology, In-Vitro Fertilization, and Radiology (Body Image, CT, Musculoskeletal, Interventional).

Dr. Joel Howell (center) is working with Semeneh Ayalew (left), a UM PhD student, and Ethiopian faculty member, Dr. Adem

History of Medicine in Ethiopia: 
Medicine in Ethiopia has undergone major changes in recent decades, with the opening of multiple new medical schools and establishment of new training programs. Joel Howell, MD (Internal Medicine, History of Medicine) is currently engaged in a project to document the history of the first medical school in Ethiopia.  Founded in 1964 by Emperor Haile Selassie, against the advice of western consultants, the new medical school offers a window into the characteristics of a medical school that was created in an economically challenged and largely rural east African country. Particular attention will be paid to the choices made about the school’s leadership and educational structure.

Kidney Transplant Program:
Jeffrey Punch, MD (UM Transplant Surgery) has led an effort to create a new Ethiopian National Transplant Center. The lack of dialysis facilities in Ethiopia has rendered kidney failure a fatal disease for those who cannot leave the country for care elsewhere. Transplant surgery is also a hallmark of modern training programs.  Aspiring surgeons often leave the country for this kind of training which contributes to “brain drain”.   Dr. Punch and his team have been working with the Ethiopian Health Ministry to develop a living donor kidney transplant program, along with a chronic dialysis program. Surgeons, nephrologists, anesthesiologists, nurses, radiologists and other specialists have visited Ann Arbor to observe our transplant program here. The first ever living donor kidney transplants in Ethiopia were performed in September 2015.

Drs. Lemlem Tamrat (left) and Bezawit Tadegegne (right) are working with UM pediatric ophthalmologist, Dr. Monte Del Monte, to establish a training program in ophthalmology at St. Paul's Hospital

Drs. Bezawit Tadegegne and Lemlem Tamrat visited the Kellogg Eye Center in May 2015 from the ophthalmology department at St. Paul’s Hospital.  Dr. Bezawit is the ophthalmology chair and Dr. Lemlem is the residency program director. The visit was part of a collaboration between St. Paul’s and Kellogg to establish a training program for ophthalmologists at their hospital in Addis Ababa. The new ophthalmology residency program, which would be only the fourth such program in a country of 80 million people, will begin training six residents per year in September 2015. Jonathan Greene, MD, Kellogg assistant professor of Ophthalmology, and Monte Del Monte, MD, Skillman Professor of Pediatric Ophthalmology, are leading the Kellogg team in this effort.

Expanding Education Programs:
Dr. John Williams, Horace W. Davenport Collegiate Professor of Physiology and Professor of Internal Medicine, is building on his work with the EM-PACE program by collaborating with two universities as they build capacity for basic medical sciences education.  He is consulting with Addis Ababa University as they plan for a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science and with St. Paul’s Millenium Medical School as they consider a Masters of Physiology degree.

Future Collaborations: 
Two major leadership visits foreshadow new collaborative opportunities between the University of Michigan and institutions within Ethiopia. Representatives from Addis Ababa University and St. Paul’s Hospital and Millennium Medical College visited UM to identify opportunities for collaboration on efforts to improve curriculum in areas such as health education and basic science teaching. The College of Engineering hosted the Chair of the Addis Ababa City Water Master Plan Committee, the Dean of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Chair of Biomedical Engineering Department, and the Director of Addis Ababa Institute of Technology; and the Director of the Institute of Development Policy and Management.

 Former EM-PACE Program:  
The Medical School was one of several University of Michigan (UM) partners on a short-term grant funded to create a transformative platform for collaboration in Ethiopia addressing some of the most pressing problems identified by country leadership. Supported by the Global Challenges for Third Century grant from the Office of the Provost, investigators of the Ethiopia-Michigan Platform for Advancing Collaborative Engagement​ (EM-PACE) program sought to develop and codify a UM model for collaboration, which will position the University as a preferred institutional partner in future collaborative efforts.

The 2013 Provost grant of nearly $300K, was supplemented with an additional $250,000 in cost-shared funds supported by the home units of the primary UM investigators. Nearly three-dozen students from across the UM campus traveled to Ethiopia to work on research projects as part of the EM-PACE grant during Summer 2014. Another group of students participated in EM-PACE projects during Summer 2015.

Read earlier articles about EM-PACE here and here

EM-PACE Symposium

More than 40 University of Michigan (UM) community members, representing 10 different UM schools and units, traveled to Addis Ababa in January 2015 to participate in a symposium assessing the progress that the EM-PACE program has made thus far in expanding collaborations between UM and institutions in Ethiopia, and determining goals for the future. Another 60+ participants came from various universities and medical colleges in Ethiopia, as well as the Ministries of Health, Education, and Science and Technology.  The two-day program included sessions led by faculty from both UM and Ethiopia, which focused on education, faculty development, and research collaborations. 

Faculty at UMMS are now working closely with Professor James Holloway, UM Vice Provost for Global and Engaged Education, who is taking an institutional approach to advancing what has been learned from the EM-PACE initiative. Vice Provost Holloway is shown below (2nd from right) with some of the symposium hosts and other UM leaders.

News, Resources, and Recent Highlights

  • February 2016The Ethiopia-Michigan Collaborative Consortium on “Advancing Healthy Communities”, hosted by the African Studies Center on February 8-12, brought 20 Ethiopian scholars to campus to highlight and expand on collaborative work being done by UM and Ethiopian partners on topics such as reproductive health, safeguarding cultural heritage, ensuring clean water, and combating human trafficking.  It served as a valuable chance for collaborators to meet face to face and learn how to expand on important work already being done. It also helped prepare future faculty and strengthen higher education in both Ethiopia and Michigan, as well as generate new knowledge on how to advance healthy communities. Read more here.
  • January 2016: MICHU Reproductive Health Clinic celebrates its opening at SPHMMC.  Read more here.
  • September 2015: Dr. Lia Tadesse named to lead UMMS Center for International Reproductive Health Training.  Read the press release here.
  • June 2015: Key leaders from the Addis Ababa University and other local officials visited Ann Arbor to discuss potential for development of a medical education program. Visitors included: Agizew Nigussie Engida, Chair, Water Master Plan Committee, City of Addis Ababa; Bikila Teklu Wodajo, Dean, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, AAiT; Frehiwot Woldehanna Bayou, Chair of Biomedical Engineering Department, AAiT; Kassahun Tesfaye Geletu, Director of IoB; Young Kyun Kim, Director of AAiT; Milliard Derbew, College of Health Sciences, School Of Medicine; and Dr. Zerihun Abebe, Provost, St. Paul’s Hospital Millenium Medical College.
  • February 2015CIRHT family training program launched in Ethiopia.
  • January 2015: EM-PACE Symposium was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to focus on exploratory conversations and dialogue that would lead to a defined road map for future collaborations. More than 40 UM faculty, students, and staff joined nearly 70 colleagues for the symposium and workshops.
  • November 2014: The Family Planning Training Program receives a new award to make SPHMMC a Center of Excellence for Reproductive Health and start a fellowship program for physicians who have demonstrated a commitment to family planning and abortion services. 
  • October 2014: The University of Michigan Health System announced the receipt of a $25 million grant from an anonymous donor to Principle Investigator, Senait Fisseha, for the establishment of a center for international reproductive health training.
  • Summer 2014: Thirty-two UM students participate in the EM-PACE program. View the EM-PACE pages in the FY2013-14 Global REACH Actvities Report here.
  • June 2014Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu traveled to Ann Arbor and met with dozens of University leaders and faculty.
  • March 2014: UM and SPHMMC hosted a Maternal Fetal Medicine and Family Planning Continuing Medical Education conference for Ethiopian physicians at SPHMMC and Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa.  This followed the SPHMMC OBGYN department launching of a Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellowship in January.
  • February 2014: Dr. Fisseha was interviewed about the partnership between UMMS, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, and the St. Paul Millennium Medical College to improve maternal and infant health in Ethiopia.  Read the Women Deliver article here
  • January 2014: UMMS and several other UM partners were awarded a Global Challenges for Third Century grant from the Office of the Provost to support the development of the Ethiopia-Michigan Platform for Advancing Collaborative Engagement, or EM-PACE.  Thirty-two students were selected to participate in the EM-PACE Initiative for Summer 2014; 26 travelled to Ethiopia while 6 stayed in Ann Arbor for their research experience.
  • November 2013: 15+ UM faculty attended the International Conference on Family Planning held at the African Union in Addis Ababa; 30 SPHMMC residents and faculty attended the conference and several presented their own family planning research and collaboration. The family planning training program for medical trainees was spearheaded through the collaborative efforts of UMMS and SPHMMC with grant funding from an anonymous foundation.
  • October 2013Dr. Senait Fisseha earns top award from the Ministry of Health.  Read more here.
  • September 2013Battling brain drain: Training doctors in Ethiopia, an article that appeared in Global Michigan, can be found here.

  • Summer 2013: M1 student, Steven Weinberg, shares his summer experience in Ethiopia.  Read more here.