Hello friends, family, and world at large,
Welcome to the best (though probably only) “Ethiopian-One Health-Ohio State MBA student blog”. For those who might be unaware, our team of six OSU MBA students has partnered with the nonprofit organization One Health to analyze the operations of Ethiopian factories and facilities. The ultimate goal of this project is to better understand how these facilities impact the surrounding people, animals, and environment. One Health’s overarching goal is to improve health and environmental wellbeing in developing areas. For this specific project, we are concentrating on hospitals, pharmacies, and factories that directly handle food or animal products.
The final two weeks of our three week trip will be spent in Addis Ababa because of its large population and industrial presence. However, now we are in Gondar, a smaller city in the northwest region of the country. We are working closely with faculty from the local university, who have been instrumental in arranging our visits to the various facilities. Our first day was spent touring the only hospital in the city, which is operated by the university.
On the first day of our trip, we met with our Gondar contacts at the University of Gondar campus and finalized our itinerary for the week. We made plans to visit the University of Gondar hospital, Dashen Brewery, a local glove manufacturer, and local pharmacies.
As you may have guessed, there are some noticeable differences between an Ethiopian hospital and one found in the United States. What they lack in technological equipment and training, however, they attempt to make up for with resourcefulness and resiliency. For example, while the newly opened cancer treatment facility has no oncologists or cancer drugs, doctors provide a place for patients to bring outside drugs and have them administered. In the operating room, surgeons work through mid-surgery power outages without even a momentary lapse in concentration.
Arguably, the most unexpected aspect of the visit was how honest and non-defensive the hospital workers acted towards us. They were not ashamed of admitting issues and pain points in their operations; they genuinely wanted feedback on how to make the hospital better.
While our GAP team was amazed at how they could do so much with such limited resources, there were still some startling observations during the visit. For example, the bio-hazard waste from the cancer treatment area had not been disposed of since the facility opened over a year ago, and was piling up in plastic bags in a small outdoor area directly behind the building. Many areas (such as the ICU and some operating rooms) held multiple patients with no barriers between them, while those not currently being attended to were often laying on the ground outside of rooms. There were also several waste management issues, such as liquid waste being discharged directly into a nearby stream. In contrast, the hospital pharmacy had a very robust process for monitoring its prescriptions using a foreign inventory management software.
These are just a small portion of the observations (both positive and negative) our team collected. The accommodating nature of everyone we interacted with enabled us to learn more than we ever anticipated, but we also saw an opportunity for future teams to perform more in-depth analysis of the hospital’s operations.
Our second site visit in Gondar was the Dashen Brewery. It provided some much needed contrast to the somber nature of the hospital tour. When we arrived, we were immediately impressed by the sophistication of the factory. It was extremely clean; there were numerous automated processes; and, they tracked key performance metrics such as bottle breakage and percentage of under-filled bottles. We still identified areas of improvement, such as better worker adherence to protective equipment guidelines and enhanced lighting in areas where manual labor is required.
Our final site visit, to a glove factory, was cancelled due to permission issues, but we were able to visit two local pharmacies and observe their processes.
The team has been able to collect an immense amount of information in just the first week, which has caused us to place even greater emphasis on developing a final report that is well-structured and succinctly articulates our key findings.
Looking ahead, we will begin working in Addis Ababa on Monday. We are currently in contact with the local university there to schedule facility visits, but unreliable internet poses a significant challenge. Our last email took 35 minutes to send!
In the meantime, we are preparing for our next site visits, enjoying a few Dashen beers, and wondering what happened on Game of Thrones last week.
Check back next week for another update!