Throughout Eastern Africa, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals struggle to secure the necessary medical supplies to effectively treat their patients. These exceptionally well-trained medical professionals are hampered by their lack of both basic medical supplies, such as sutures and surgical tools, and technical diagnostic equipment, including ultrasound machines and cardiac monitors. Afya Foundation staff members have witnessed this situation in countless countries and have seen how it leads to poor access to basic healthcare and an exodus of well-trained doctors and nurses.
Afya Foundation works to end this dynamic by partnering with doctors, nurses and administrators on the ground in African nations to ascertain the specific needs of healthcare centers in these countries. The Afya model recognizes that not all hospitals and clinics have the same needs or are faced with the same public health conditions so Afya staff work closely with partners on the ground to prepare customized medical shipments of surgical, clinical and basic humanitarian supplies.
In May 2014, Afya’s Senior Operations Manager and Rehab Specialist traveled to Ethiopia to attend the Pan African Medical Doctors and Healthcare Conference to meet with current and prospective partners. At this groundbreaking meeting, the Afya staff met with leaders from many of Ethiopia’s 33 medical schools to determine the types of medical supplies and equipment Afya could send them in future container shipments. Ethiopia, in particular, has a nationwide shortage of supplies in its 33 teaching hospitals. Beacause of this, Afya’s primary goal at the conference was to work with representatives from these schools to ensure that they receive the requisite medical supplies to teach, and retain, the country’s next generation of doctors.
Afya staff also held various other meetings in order to plan future distribution. In particular, they met with an advisor to the Ethiopian Minister of Health, to plan a medical shipment tailored to renal disease treatment and surgery. They were also able to meet with the USAID team in Ethiopia and Patricia Haslach, the US Ambassador, to determine how Afya’s Rehabilitation Program model could be adapted to train the country’s 38,000 community health workers in rehab care. Finally, they met with the director of The Rainbow Charitable Organization, to finalize the medical supplies needed at their hospital in Harar, Ethiopia.
Thanks to the generosity of Ethiopian Airlines, two lead staff members were able to fly to Addis Ababa in order to make these distributions and future distributions possible.