Cornerstone Initiative strengthens medical expertise in Ethiopia

The WFH Cornerstone Initiative is increasing the capacities of healthcare professionals in Ethiopia, helping the country move towards increased access to care for those with bleeding disorders. The Cornerstone Initiative aims to provide support, expertise, and training to countries with minimal levels of accessible care for people with inherited bleeding disorders. Through this initiative, the WFH hopes to lay the foundation of basic care and build partnerships that will lead to an integrated and sustainable structure of patient support and care delivery. The ultimate goal is to move closer to the vision of Treatment for All.

A two-day national treaters workshop was organized by the WFH in collaboration with the Ethiopia Hemophilia Society (EHS) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from June 6 to 7, 2017. The training brought together a total of twenty-five doctors from eight regions in the country: Gonder, Dire Dawa, Hawassa, Mekelle, Jimma, Baherdar, Harer, and Addis Ababa. The training was facilitated by Saliou Diop, MD, member of the WFH Board of Directors and the Regional Advisor for Africa, and Sherif Abdulaziz, MD, President of the EHS. Amha Gebremedhin, MD, Chair of the EHS Board, was also present at the workshop. The sessions included a general overview of recent developments in hemophilia care; the status of hemophilia care in Ethiopia; the challenges faced in the diagnosis and treatment of hemophilia; approaches to prophylaxis; and management of patients with inhibitors, among other topics.

The eight Ethiopian regions represented at the workshop

The objective of the training was to enhance the expertise of doctors in order to increase the number of diagnosed patients with bleeding disorders who can access adequate treatment. Ethiopia—with a population of close to one hundred million people—has currently identified only around 250 patients with inherited bleeding disorders of whom 60% were seen with damaged joints because they had not been diagnosed early enough. Ethiopia has only one hemophilia treatment center (HTC) located in the Tikur Ambessa Referral Hospital, with a satellite site at St. Paul’s Hospital. Both facilities are located within Addis Ababa, which is difficult to access for patients living in remote areas.

In order to improve care for people of the Ethiopian bleeding disorders community, the EHS is planning to open outreach centers in Gonder and Hawassa. The two-day national treaters workshop will equip doctors from those two regions, as well as doctors in other regions of the country with the knowledge they need to offer better treatment to people with hemophilia. It is hoped that these doctors will work closely with the nurses trained by WFH in December 2016 to form core teams in regions that will improve the care of patients with bleeding disorders. The workshop also featured many collaborative discussions, including one on a recommendation for the development of standard protocols of management of patients with bleeding disorders. The discussion also saw the group recommending the development of a standard protocol for the management of patients with bleeding disorders.

The workshop participants greatly appreciated the knowledge gained during the workshop—especially what they learned during the sessions on case studies and treatment management.