Family Medicine in Ethiopia: Lessons from a Global Collaboration

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Abstract

Background:

Building the capacity of local health systems to provide high-quality, self-sustaining medical education and health care is the central purpose for many global health partnerships (GHPs). Since 2001, our global partner consortium collaborated to establish Family Medicine in Ethiopia; the first Ethiopian family physicians graduated in February 2016.

Methods:

The authors, representing the primary Ethiopian, Canadian, and American partners in the GHP, identified obstacles, accomplishments, opportunities, errors, and observations from the years preceding residency launch and the first 3 years of the residency.

Results:

Common themes were identified through personal reflection and presented as lessons to guide future GHPs.

LESSON 1:

Promote Family Medicine as a distinct specialty.

LESSON 2:

Avoid gaps, conflict, and redundancy in partner priorities and activities.

LESSON 3:

Building relationships takes time and shared experiences.

LESSON 4:

Communicate frequently to create opportunities for success.

LESSON 5:

Engage local leaders to build sustainable, long-lasting programs from the beginning of the partnership.

Conclusions:

GHPs can benefit individual participants, their organizations, and their communities served. Engaging with numerous partners may also result in challenges—conflicting expectations, misinterpretations, and duplication or gaps in efforts. The lessons discussed in this article may be used to inform GHP planning and interactions to maximize benefits and minimize mishaps.

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