At the end of September, 2015, Dr. Mary Stephenson (Department Head), Dr. Humberto Scoccia, Dr. William Kobak, Dr. Dimitrios Mastrogiannis, and Dr. Tamika Alexander, led by Dr. Gelila Goba spent a week in Tigray, Ethiopia as part of the Mela Project.  The goal of the project was to increase the number of OB/Gyns in Ethiopia through resident training at Mekele University.

In Ethiopia, 10% of births are assisted by a skilled provider—4% by a doctor and 7% by a nurse or midwife. Less than 1% of births were assisted by a Health Extension Workers, and 57% of births were assisted by a relative, or some other person. Twenty-eight percent of births were assisted by a traditional birth attendant, while 4% of births were unattended. Ethiopia also has one of the lowest health workforce densities in the world.  The high proportion of at-home births coupled with the low number of physicians have contributed to one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

To increase number of OB/Gyns, the government of Ethiopia is undergoing a rapid scale-up of residency training the past 5 years.  The Mela Project was conceived to support Ministry of Health’s efforts in starting an OB/Gyn residency program at Mekele University that will support the education and training of OB/Gyn residents.  This, in turn, will increase the number of OB/Gyns in Ethiopia and reduce maternal mortality.

The visit in September was to establish a partnership between UIC faculty and Mekele University. Our team of faculty from the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at UIC met with the Dean and President of Mekele University to assess the needs of the University and to determine how the UIC Department of OB/Gyn could make a difference in improving care for women.

Our faculty conducted a boot camp for the Mekele interns to enhance their clinical skills, led teaching rounds and didactics with the residents daily, provided patient care and assisted emergency deliveries at Mekele Hospital.

Mekele residents presented their preliminary research project to the UIC faculty who provided critical feedback and encouragement.  Our Department is seeking to offer an accredited Global Women’s Health resident elective at Mekele to give our residents and opportunity to gain exposure to global women’s health work in a low resource setting.