Anteneh Habte, MD
The annual P2P conference on health care and medical education was successfully completed on October 19, 2019 at the Marriott Hotel in Arlington, VA. 2019 marked the 11th consecutive year that this conference which brings together health care professionals from Ethiopia, the Diaspora and US academic institutions was conducted. This year also marked the 20th anniversary of the founding of our organization. As has been the case in the past several years, the morning session in “Triangular Partnership” was followed by four hours of continuing medical/nursing/pharmacy education accredited by the Mayo Clinic School of Continuous Professional Development. The conference was livestreamed on Facebook and all presentations will be available on the P2P website widening its audience beyond those who were available to attend in person.
Each year, the P2P conference organizing committee selects a topic that focuses on a health issue of significance to Ethiopia, and brings together professionals to share their experience and deliberate on possible solutions. The theme for the 2019 conference was end-stage renal disease and the ethics and inequity surrounding renal replacement therapy. Nephrologists from Ethiopia and the Diaspora discussed best practices, challenges and opportunities of managing a non-communicable disease in a country with limited resources and competing priorities.
The conference was organized into two sessions in the morning and three sessions in the afternoon, and the award ceremony was conducted during the lunch break. A large segment of health care professionals was in attendance including physicians, nurses, pharmacists and social workers. Notable guests included His Excellency Ambassador Fitsum Arega, ambassador of Ethiopia to the United States; Honorable Keith Martin, MD PC, Executive Director for the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) and Dr. Anthony K Wutoh, Provost and Chief Academic Officer for Howard University.
The session on Triangular Partnership was moderated by Professor Enawgaw Mehari, President and Founder of P2P. Presenters and panelists were Ambassador Fitsum Arega, Dr. Keith Martin, Dr. Melaku Demede (Chief of Cardiology at Appalachian Regional Health and interventional cardiologist), Dr. Zewdu Emiru (Vice President for Information and Communication at Bahir Dar University) and Eng. Gizaw Legesse (founding member of Vision Ethiopia). The discussion focused on the initiatives of the Ethiopian government and embassy to facilitate Diaspora participation in health care, forging partnership between Ethiopian and US academic institutions, and the role of Diaspora led non-profit organizations in building capacity and transferring technology to support various development projects in Ethiopia. Ambassador Fitsum outlined some of the Ethiopian government priorities, and invited participants to make full use of the embassy in tackling the impediments that arise when willing and able professionals attempt to give back to their native country. Dr. Keith Martin described the resources of the over 180 academic institutions strong CUGH and encouraged representatives of Ethiopian academic institutions to apply for membership and add their voice on how to strengthen partnerships and set priorities. Dr. Melaku gave an update on the collaboration between cardiologists in Ethiopia and their US based counterparts under the auspices of P2P. Dr. Zewdu presented a synopsis of Bahir Dar University and their goal to establish themselves as a premier research institute. To that end, they will be actively pursuing national and international partnerships and welcomed the opportunities offered by P2P and CUGH. Eng. Gizaw shared the activities of “Vision Ethiopia” with the audience and highlighted their recently conducted conference in Bahir Dar. There was a robust panel discussion moderated by Professor Enawgaw with questions including concrete steps the Ethiopian government is taking to create a space for the Ethiopian professional Diaspora. This session was concluded with plans for a follow-up gathering the next morning of stakeholders including Ethiopian academic institutions, CUGH and P2P leadership.1
The second session was on the major theme of the year “Ethics and Equity of Renal Replacement Therapy” and was moderated by Dr. Mikias Zemedkun (cardiologist at MedStar Washington Medical Center). Participants were Dr. Yewondwossen Tadesse (Associate Professor and Head of the Renal Unit at Tikur Anbessa Hospital), Dr. Momina Ahmed (Head of the Kidney Transplant Program at St. Paul’s Hospital), Dr. Fasika Tedla (Associate Professor and Associate Medical Director of the Kidney Transplant Program at Mount Sinai Hospital), and Dr. Merfeke Semret (nephrologist at Peninsula Kidney Associates). The discussion included challenges with setting up a new transplant program in Ethiopia, lack of interdisciplinary support to include pathology and microbiology, cost effectiveness of kidney transplant as opposed to hemodialysis, and equitable rationing of available resources. A historical perspective of renal replacement therapy in the US was presented with a focus on lessons learned and adoptability to a low-income country. The panelists were hopeful that there will be a growing participation of diaspora nephrologists in all aspects of kidney care in Ethiopia including teaching and research.
The annual award ceremony was held during lunch break and was moderated by Professor Ahmed Moen (Howard University). He explained that after going through scores of entries and a rigorous selection process, awards were extended to:
- Professor Dieter Reissig: lifetime achievement award for his leading role in the establishment and success of the medical school at the now University of Gondar. Professor Reissig was a key figure in the Gondar-Leipzig alliance whose 40th anniversary was celebrated just last month.
- Dr. Dhuguma Adugna Debele: rising star award for his visionary leadership of Arsi University as President and his initiative on making the campus “clean and green”.
- Dr. Arvid Hogganvik: community service award for his love and dedication to Ethiopia and Ethiopians exemplified by 26 years of medical service in Debre Tabor and active role in various community projects.
- Ato Asfaw Yemiru: community service award for his outstanding role in educating homeless children in Addis Ababa. He is the recipient of multiple awards and accolades including World’s Children Prize and the Global Friends Award.
The afternoon session of Pan-African Continuous Medical Education Network (PACMEN) was a four-hour CME program co-chaired by Dr. Kebede H Begna (Mayo Clinic, Hematology/Oncology) and Dr. Tinsay Woreta (Johns Hopkins, Gastroenterology/Hepatology). The first panel of speakers featured Dr. Ergeba Shiferaw (Advanced Radiology of Baltimore) who discussed the role of screening and diagnostic mammography in a resource limited setting. She emphasized that mammography saves lives, and the risk of radiation exposure is negligible and the anxiety related to false positive findings has no long-term adverse effect. Dr. Alodia Gabre-Kidan (Johns Hopkins, Colorectal Surgery) spoke about colon cancer prevention and treatment. She discussed the various diagnostic modalities and the role of colonoscopy as the only intervention which offers both detection and prevention of colorectal cancer. Dr. Tigist Hailu (Johns Hopkins, Cardiology) reviewed the 2019 guidelines on primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. She discussed the toolbox for estimating the risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease including risk enhancers and coronary artery calcium score.
The second section of the afternoon session was moderated by Dr. Wudneh Temesgen (Kaiser Permanente, General Surgery) and Dr. Tinsay Woreta (Johns Hopkins,Gastroenterology/Hepatology). Speakers were Professor Demisse Alemayehu (Pfizer/Columbia University) who discussed the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in advancing patient care, drug development and medical research. Dr. Sosena Kebede (Internal Medicine/Population Health) made a presentation on the need for innovation of our health care system to empower people to overcome their social barrier and “own” their health. She pointed out that health disparities including survival appear to reflect the growing income inequality. Dr. Fasika Woreta (Johns Hopkins, Wilmer Eye Institute) spoke on ophthalmic emergencies for the Internist including acute angle closure glaucoma, endophthalmitis, central retinal artery occlusion and retinal detachment.
The last section of the afternoon session was moderated by Professor Dawd Siraj (University of Wisconsin, Infectious Diseases) and Dr. Kebede Begna (Mayo Clinic, Hematology/Oncology). It started with Professor Yonas Geda’s (Mayo Clinic, Neurology/Psychiatry) presentation on his study to evaluate the determinants for the emotional impact of an adverse event. He argued that change is triggered by appealing to one’s intrinsic values and not by shame, guilt or angst. Dr. Maaza Abdi (Johns Hopkins, Hospitalist) gave a primer on common causes of gastrointestinal bleeding with a focus on diagnostic modalities and therapeutic interventions. The last speaker was Dr. Yewondwossen Tadesse (Tikur Anbessa Hospital/Nephrology) who discussed management of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in resource limited settings. He stressed the importance of early diagnosis, risk factor modification, and slowing the progression of disease. He also discussed the management of complications of ESRD and the available modalities of RRT.
There were brief presentations by Dr. Raniya Ali Al-Matari on Ethiopian Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists Association in Diaspora (EPPAD), and Ms. Rahel Getachew on the upcoming “Hearts of Lijoch” event at the Ethiopian Embassy on October 29th, 2019.
P2P’s annual conference is the premier platform for Diaspora Health Care Professionals to network, partner with their Ethiopian counterparts, and familiarize themselves with the health care scene in Ethiopia. It is held every year on the third Saturday of October. P2P also holds an annual conference in Ethiopia in late winter/early spring focusing on institutional partnership and comprehensive cancer care.
1The follow up meeting did occur the next morning and put flesh on the skeleton of the previous day discussion.
Anteneh Habte, MD is a consultant in Hospice & Palliative Medicine and is currently serving as Chairman of P2P’s Board of Directors