UIC OB/GYN’s footprint in Africa is growing.
Contact: Gelila Goba
The University of Illinois Chicago’s partnership with Mekelle University in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, continues to grow as one of the leading women’s health peering programs in Ethiopia as well as the broader East Africa region. The partnership, which focuses on improving medical and resident education, quality maternal care, cervical cancer prevention, and eliminating trauma and gender-based violence, has led to over 40 bi-directional exchange. visits as well as numerous collaborative research projects several of which are highlighted below:
- “Evaluation and Cost Comparison of Cervical Cancer Screening Modalities in Ethiopia”. The goal of this study is to compare four cervical cancer-screening modalities for their testing efficacy as well as cost-implications of each with the view to finding an economical model for LMICs such as Ethiopia.
- “Risk-factors Associated with Stillbirth at University Referral Hospital in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia”. The stillbirth rate in Tigray is alarmingly high and researchers from Mekelle University and UIC are finalizing a retrospective chart review of all cases of stillbirth at Ayder Referral Hospital, the leading referral hospital in the region, with a catchment population of more than eight million. Preliminary results show 322 stillbirths out of 4,904 total births over a 2-year period and that a sizeable proportion of stillbirths occur while women are transiting from health centers to Ayder Referral Hospital.
- “Assessment of Communication Skills of Physicians at Ayder Referral Hospital” This study entailed a successful translation of Makoul’s Communication Assessment Tool (CAT) into the Tigrigna language of northern Ethiopia. Since translation, the tool has been administered to 1,024 patients to assess physician-patient interaction and communication skills of resident physicians.
New collaborative opportunities on cervical cancer prevention have recently developed with Makerere University (Uganda) and Ben Gurion University (Israel) that leverage the extensive biomedical research experience and infrastructure of these countries with the global-leading community health models developed in Ethiopia.
UIC and Mekelle University: A budding collaboration
The partnership between UIC and Mekelle University dates back to 2015 when the two institutions signed an agreement to assist Mekelle University to strengthen its nascent OB/GYN residency program. The program, which started in 2012,graduated its first cohort of OB/GYN Residents in 2016. Dr. Goba has been assisting the partnership in different capacities since 2012.
The collaboration is supported by a grant from the IDP Foundation, a Chicago-based foundation that invests in high-impact education in the US and globally.
Mekelle University is one of the leading university’s in the rapidly growing country and is at the forefront of research and international collaboration. Ayder Referral Hospital, the teaching hospital affiliated with the university, serves a catchment population of 8 million. It has an inpatient capacity of 500 and serves more than 100,000 patients every year.
In addition to medicine, Mekelle University houses leading faculties in information technology, engineering, and agricultural sciences. Unique among Ethiopian universities, Mekelle University provides academic opportunities to students from neighboring South Sudan, several of whom are completing OB/GYN residency alongside Ethiopian peers.
Going forward, UIC will continue to work with Mekelle University to expand the OB/GYN collaboration with the goal of helping Mekelle University become a pre-eminent OB/GYN training program in Ethiopia and the broader region.
Research collaborations on cervical cancer, gender-based and sexual violence, and stillbirth are also underway.