Supporting the Pulmonology Unit in Ayder Referral Hospital Mekelle

Pneumology (pulmonary disease) is concerned with diseases of the respiratory tract.

Respiratory tract diseases (RTD) are common in developed countries. Causes are pollutants and allergens in the air, airborne pathogens, carcinogens and fine dust pollution. These causes have a global effect. Thus, respiratory diseases in the countries of the Third World are also frequent and are even more frequent because of poorly developed hygiene.

In Ethiopia, RTD are so common that practically everyone who works in health care is constantly in touch with it. The beds of the medical centers are filled to a third with patients suffering from RTD.

The diseases that are treated in Ethiopia are listed in the local outpatient clinics (health centers, health care centers). The lists can be found as posters in the treatment rooms. The most common three diseases are RTD and there are 50% RTD among all the listed diseases.

The diagnosis of these diseases is usually made clinically, because rarely laboratory tests and, more rarely, X-ray examinations are available. So this is still the king's discipline of pneumology. Not known or not in use are pulmonary function test, allergy tests and bronchoscopies.

Accordingly, pneumology takes place at a level that does not use 90% of today's possibilities.

Our goal was therefore to introduce pneumological thinking in a university hospital and to teach and establish modern pneumological diagnostics and therapy.

Since 2012 the pneumologists Dr. Ulrich Wilke (Marienhospital Witten), Dr. Anette Bieberle (pulmonary clinic Siegen), Prof. Gerd Goeckenjan (Kassel) and me (Dr. Karlheinz Franz, pulmonary clinic Witten) are working on this project.

We have brought several flexible bronchoscopes and a complete device for rigid bronchoscopy into the pneumological department of the Ayder Hospital from Germany and have set up the examination possibilities. Since 2012, we have trained numerous Ethiopian internists in the use of the bronchoscopes during our repeated visits. Together with German endoscopists, the devices were set up for the maintenance, cleaning and treatment of the devices and the staff there trained.
Additional we have several used and 4 new Spirometer brought from Germany and educated the local staff in the diagnostic procedures and  the evaluation of the results.

For allergy diagnostics, test allergens were brought and the technique of allergy tests practiced. Together with the Ethiopian colleagues, even a small scientific investigation was carried out to determine the occurrence of respiratory allergies in Ethiopia. In addition to the practical training of the staff, lectures about lung diseases and their diagnostics were held and, for example, pulmonary function teaching courses were installed.

Author: Dr. med. Karl-Heinz Franz, Witten 2016