The University of Gondar (UoG) has presented the Center for International Reproductive Health Training (CIRHT) with the “Best Partner of the Year” award. UoG, one of the oldest medical schools in Ethiopia, is one of CIRHT’s ten partner institutions in Ethiopia, working together to expand pre-service training in family planning, contraception and comprehensive abortion care for medical students and midwives.

In partnership since 2014, together they have developed an expanded curriculum, increased faculty training, and upgraded teaching capacity, including a renovated family planning and reproductive health (“Michu”) clinic and a state-of-the-art simulation lab. Faculty and residents from the medical, midwifery and public health schools are also engaging in a number of local research projects, with support and training from CIRHT.

Dr. Yeshiwas Abebaw, the head of OB-Gyn, said the cooperative academic, service and research activities were having an impact. More important, he emphasized the nature of the partnership: “We find it to be practical, addressing our problems, supporting us in our endeavors. The approach is to build our own capacity rather than ‘spoon-feeding’”.

CIRHT Managing Director Janet Hall noted that, “Sometimes programs can get bogged down in bureaucracy. Your statement really means we are using our resources well, maximizing them to bring value to you and our other partners. That means a lot to us.”

The university’s midwifery program, the largest in the country, began working with CIRHT to enhance its curriculum and training in November 2016. Midwifery program head Birhanu Wubale said the CIRHT involvement in developing and harmonizing curriculum, giving professional training the 35 instructors, and creating assessment tools is bringing higher quality education to the 1500 students. The advanced undergraduate students, as well as the master’s students, are moving from BEmONC (Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care) to CEmONC (Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care), including performing Caesarian Sections. “This is real capacity-building,” he said.

The award was presented on July 8 by university President Desalegne Mengesha at the annual university graduation ceremonies, in front of thousands of attendees. He thanked CIRHT for its “great partnership” across all of the areas. Asrat Andargie, VP, Academic Affairs, noted, “It was a big event, attended by thousands and transmitted on TV and radio live across the country. We acknowledged your organization at our biggest event.”

Dr. Mengistu Hailemariam, CIRHT’s program director in Ethiopia was grateful for the award. “CIRHT’s work on pre-service training to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity can only be accomplished when we are working with great partner institutions. The staff, faculty, and, most important, students, at the University of Gondar have embraced the academic and research initiatives and physical upgrades on campus, and in turn are serving their community better. We are honored to receive this recognition.”

A new, stand-alone Michu clinic on campus is in its final stages of construction, which will greatly expand the capacity to provide the community with compassionate, comprehensive and competent family planning and reproductive health services.