I have just returned from a visit to Gondar in northern Ethiopia, under the auspices of the Leicester-Gondar Link, a long standing link between hospitals/universities in Leicester and in Gondar. The link encompasses clinical hospital staff as well as academic and support staff, and has seen many visits of Leicester people to Gondar as well as the other way round.
I went as part of a team, along with Tatjana Petrinic of the University of Oxford and Getachew Bayissa of the University of Jimma, Ethiopia, to teach an information skills module on a new MSc course. The course is the first of its kind in Ethiopia, and there are courses for physiotherapists, clinical laboratory staff, midwives and anaesthetists. The aim is to improve practice and also to have aa course that is self sustaining, with people who qualify going on to teach it. There were 45 students, more than planned, reflecting the demand for such a course.
Ours was the first module, and ran from Wednesday to Sunday to avoid the Ethiopian New Year. The module was called, rather grandly, “Evidence based practice and health informatics”. We certainly covered evidence based practice (not sure about the health informatics!), along with website evaluation, critical appraisal (my favourite!), and the resources available through HINARI, a WHO initiative. HINARI includes PubMed, as well as e journals made available free of charge to countries with low average income.
A theme in my thinking since my return is that although some things are very different in Ethiopia, a good many things are the same.
Of course, the town of Gondar feels very different. Very few people have their own car, relying instead on shared minibuses or autorickshaws (“tuktuks”). We had a day with no electricity, and another with no Internet access. But there are still students, who want to succeed. Some of them have extensive knowledge of computers, although others have less. We had the use of a 40 seater computer room, with digital projector. The questions that came up in hands on practice time were not that different from what we get asked here.
And here are some photos…