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A group of 150 Ethiopian doctors living abroad are constructing a hospital in their home country that will offer state-of-the-art medical treatment. This new hospital is designed to reduce the number of Ethiopians seeking medical facilities abroad. The Ethio-American Doctors Group, an association of more than150 Ethiopian doctors in the Diaspora, is realizing its dream: establishing an up-to-date hospital in their homeland that includes a medical school and a medical research center. Dr. Yonas Legesse Cherinet, of the Doctors Group, said the new hospital will feature 27 medical specialties that currently are not available in Ethiopia.
“There are a variety of fields where service is very limited or unavailable here. I could mention vascular surgery, urology, pulmonology, neuro-surgery and reproductive endocrinology, which is not available. So many doctors are coming with so many specialities; there will be a core group of these specialists who will be coming here to lead some departments, to work here,” said Dr. Yonas.
The Doctors Group hopes that fewer Ethiopians will go abroad for medical help if they can be treated inside the country. Currently, many Ethiopians that can afford better treatment go to Asia, the Middle East and South Africa. The Bangkok Hospital in Thailand treated more than 6,000 Ethiopians in 2011 alone. A lot of money is involved, as the average treatment costs about $20,000. Dr. Zelelam Abebe, who works in a private clinic in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, said there is a great need for first-class medical services in the country. “I had to refer several people to hospitals abroad for different cardiac surgeries, brain surgery and advanced cancer cases,” he said. Dr. Yonas said that providing for Ethiopians who might otherwise go abroad means the hospital will have to be run differently – and better – compared to most other facilities in the country. “The reasons they mention [for going abroad] vary from the quality of care to the way they are treated in terms of respect. So we want to bring a new culture here of medical care, which will be patient-centered,” said Yonas. But with an average yearly income of $ 1,200, most Ethiopians will not be able to afford the treatments offered at the new facility. Yonas said money will be raised for those in financial need. ”We also have what we call the EDG fund, which will be taking 10 percent of our profit for people who cannot afford quality service,” he said.
The hospital is scheduled to open its doors by 2016 and employ 300 to 400 people, of whom 50 will be physicians. Some doctors from the Diaspora will return to Ethiopia, while others will commit several weeks per year to an exchange of knowledge with the hospital.