Ethiopian Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists Association in the Diaspora (EPPAD)

Ermias Tilahun, MPH, PhD

Founder & President, EPPAD

USA

What EPPAD is:

 

The Ethiopian Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists Association in Diaspora (EPPAD) is a non-profit membership association of Ethiopian pharmaceutical professionals in diaspora incorporated in the State of Virginia, USA. The Association aims to bring pharmaceutical and allied professionals together and serve as a platform for knowledge exchange, promotion of investment in pharmaceutical sector for access to safe and quality medicines, and policy dialogue in in the U.S and in Ethiopia. Its members include pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, other allied professionals, and interested institutions.

Mission, Vision, and Objectives:

The vision of EPPAD is to promote public health through pharmaceutical care.

Its mission is to bring pharmaceutical and allied professionals together to contribute to pharmacy education, practice, service, and scholarship.

The objectives of the Association are to create a platform for pharmaceutical professionals in the diaspora to network with each other and enrich their knowledge and skills to be competent professionals in pharmacy care in the US through continued education, and annual conferences. It will also serve as a bridge to connect Ethiopian pharmaceutical professionals working abroad with their counterparts in Ethiopia to promote professional practice, improve access to quality-assured, affordable, and effective pharmaceutical products and support appropriate policy and regulatory reforms.

Who EPPAD works with:

EPPAD primarily works with its members and allies to enhance professional competence and promote public health and pharmaceutical care. EPPAD also works with international organizations and sister associations to promote its mission and vision. The key links are pharmacy and allied professionals; institutions in the U.S and Ethiopia; businesses and NGOs involved in public health. EPPAD aspires to be a bridge between the diaspora and beneficiary groups in Ethiopia. Besides, there are individuals in different institutions/NGOs that are committed to being the link/liaison to identify and facilitate contacts to plan and implement support programs. Network members have long years of experience in providing individual or institutional support and technical assistance to the health and the pharmaceutical sector in Ethiopia. They can also be excellent sources of hands-on experience, best practices, and contact persons so that efforts bear fruit. 

EPPAD’s work with P2P:

EPPAD has been closely working with its sister association, P2P, in facets of shared interest with the goal of supporting Ethiopia’s healthcare system as well as facilitating scientific knowledge exchange among fellow Ethiopian diaspora healthcare professionals in the US. EPPAD has used P2P platforms to announce the formation of the Association and to update its progress to diaspora healthcare professionals. EPPAD and P2P also have a plan to collaborate in further advancing their common interests and vision in the future. 

EPPAD’s progress to date

In the last one and a half year of its formation, EPPAD:

  • Formed a committed team of the founding board and committee members (April 2018)
  • Registered EPPAD as a 503C non-profit organization in the USA (July 2018)
  • Developed a website and social media accounts on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to engage members and key stakeholders (November 2018)
  • Conducted a gathering of professionals to conceptualize illustrative activities to support pharmaceutical/health developments in the U.S and in Ethiopia (October 2018)
  • Launched the inaugural Symposium of EPPAD (February 2019)
  • Conducted professional development and guidance meeting to high school students, foreign pharmacy graduates, new graduates, and carrier changing aspirants (June 2019)
  • Conducted a month-long consultation and philanthropy mission to Ethiopia (August 2019)
  • Conducted a pharmaceutical investment forum (September 2019)

The Inaugural Symposium

On October 06, 2018, EPPAD convened its first consultative networking event by bringing together a cross-section of professionals. At this meeting, a consensus was reached to form working/interest groups that will coordinate the planning and implementation of interventions by mobilizing expertise, technology, resources, and investment in response to the current conducive political climate and address the many challenges of the pharmaceutical sector in Ethiopia.

On February 16, 2019, a one-day inaugural symposium was held at the Ethiopian Embassy hall in Washington, DC. The Symposium attracted about 110 professional participants from different parts of the US. This event had a three-part program that included:

  1. remarks/keynote speeches by distinguished speakers from industry, academia, regulatory, and pharmacy practice;
  1. formation of thematic groups and development of action plans; and
  1. accredited continuing professional education for pharmacy practitioners on HIV & AIDS and medication safety with a focus on Ethiopia.       

Key thematic Areas for supporting developments in Ethiopia

Based on key challenges and opportunities in the pharmaceutical sector in Ethiopia, four key interest groups are formed.

  1. Philanthropy/resource mobilization; the pharmacy philanthropy participant group is intended to contribute to a “pharmacy fund” that will go to directly support critical need areas in the pharmaceutical sector to realize immediate practical responses. Suggested illustrative activities to be supported by the pharmacy fund include: scholarship fund for needy pharmacy students; providing sanitary pads for needy pharmacy female students who usually miss days every month because of inability to buy sanitary pads; awards/recognitions for outstanding students; providing medicines to welfare groups like “Mekedonia Senior Citizens’ home” for treating common diseases; supporting Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Association(EPA) events/activities (e.g. BP/Blood Sugar monitors for public screening of non-communicable diseases; publication of journals etc.); quick fix supports to improve dispensing or similar pharmacy services.

In August 2019, Ato Gabriel Daniel—founding board member of EPPAD— traveled to Ethiopia, visited eight charities and provided deworming tablets for over 2,000 persons, distributed and demonstrated the use of digital blood pressure monitors and Snellen’s charts for vision screening to six of the charities.

  1. Business development in pharmaceutical manufacturing, supply chain, and R&D: Based on the premise that the investment environment in Ethiopia is conducive (pharmaceutical industrial park being readied at Kilinto in the outskirts of Addis, minimal startup capital with the rest to be accessed through bank loan, members contribution, and shareholders’ equity), there is an opportunity for professionals in the diaspora to be part of business/service development. This thematic area focuses on creating a platform for bringing together individuals and groups with investment interest, experience, expertise, and resources to invest in the pharmaceutical sector in Ethiopia and beyond. Such activities may include getting involved in the industry by sole financing, forming Shareholding Company, partnering with Pharma companies or financiers, etc.

In September 2019, EPPAD organized a pharmaceutical investment forum that attracted over sixty participants. Subsequently, this group—in November 2019—launched a feasibility study to engage in socially responsible investment areas, including the manufacturing of medicines and import/distribution of medicines. 

  1. Human capacity development through training and mentorship: this thematic area of EPPAD focuses on human resources development through collaboration with teaching institutions or professional associations in lecturing or availing technical resources to improve knowledge, skills, and practice/performance. This may include identifying and facilitating individuals or groups from the diaspora to commit time to lecture, mentor, supervise graduate students virtually or in-person; helping in curriculum review/revision/harmonization; planning and conducting Tele-pharmacy and build video conferencing capacity; identifying sources for donation of technical books, journals, and online publications; identifying teaching/research institutions to twin/link with Ethiopian institutions. Moreover, this thematic area of EPPAD, aims to contribute to raising public awareness on the use and dangers of medicines through pharmacy events and capacitating different media platforms to play an active role in public knowledge and engagement.  Lack of public awareness of medicine use and abuse is a challenge that has not been given due attention. There are challenges in availability, consistency, and audience-oriented informational materials in the sector.

Presently, this group of EPPAD is conducting a supply-side survey to assess and mobilize diaspora pharmaceutical professionals’ availability, timing, and expertise to support the schools of pharmacy in Ethiopia. Likewise, a demand-driven survey is underway to identify the needs of the existing twenty-one public pharmacy schools to be matched with the supply-side assessment. Coordination in this area is actively being pursued with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Association, and twenty-one public schools of pharmacy in Ethiopia. 

  1. Policy and Regulatory: there is a need to provide technical assistance in strengthening institutions, putting in place improved systems and advocacy in introducing/updating policies, strategies, and guidelines in the various areas in the pharmaceutical sector. There are challenges in registration, regulatory environment, quality assurance, and controlling counterfeit/substandard products. This thematic area can contribute to addressing such problems by working closely with the responsible institutions; capacitating regions, schools of pharmacy, health facilities and health professionals to engage in regulatory and enforcement advocacy; inventorying relevant policy documents, professionals and premises for review/revision as appropriate; online accessing of updated official materials for public use, etc. 

 

How to Contact:

Please visit EPPAD website and social media accounts to learn more about the association. .

Website: https://www.eppad.org/

Twitter: @eppad1, 

Facebook: @eppad2018

LinkedIn: eppad

Contact – Email: info@eppad.org

-Phone: 301-675-3384/571-277-1823

-Address: 8530 Gwynedd way

Springfield, VA 22153

 

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