March 13 marked one year since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Ethiopia. As in most African countries, the initial response by the government and relevant sector offices were swift minimizing the impact of the first wave of infection by exercising high level adherence to public health and social distancing measures. GOHi has been actively supporting the Ministry of Health’s and the Ethiopian Public Health Institute’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts through trainings, laboratory reagents and supplies procurement, conducting timely prioritization and policy recommendation surveys, and hiring surveillance officers to complement the active case finding and contact tracing activities.
In the past few months, Ethiopia and many African countries began experiencing the second surge of the pandemic, and unlike the first, the positivity rate, hospitalization and case fatality rate are spiking at an alarming proportion causing shortages of hospital beds and oxygen supplies. GOHi and other concerned organizations in the United States and local non-governmental and governmental organizations in Ethiopia are working to increase public awareness and in hopes of reinvigorating public adherence to the implementation of public health measure to curve the imminent crisis.
On Saturday, March 20, GOHi co-hosted a well-attended webinar titled, “COVID-19: A year in review and the way forward,” organized by People to People and the Ethiopian Diaspora-High Level Advisory Council on COVID-19. Enawgaw Mehari, MD, chair of the advisory council, and GOHi’s Zelalem Mekuria, DVM, PhD, member of the advisory council, led the organization of the webinar which had five sessions. Her Excellence Lia Tadesse, MD, minister of health, His Excellence Afework Kassu Gizaw, PhD, minister of science and higher education, Fitsum Arega, Ethiopian ambassador to the United States, and Yoseph Daemo, member of the house of representatives, attended and participated in the panel discussions.
The webinar covered current challenges such as global COVID-19 vaccine access and concluded with a summary resolution and action plans presented by Wondwossen Gebreyes DVM, PhD, GOHi executive director.