The Ethiopian senior cardiologist Assoc. Prof. from Ayder Hospital is visiting German Memmingen Cardiology Department
On invitation of the German Etiopia-Witten assoc. financed by the German GIZ he stays there for 6 weeks supported by the senior cardiologist Dr. Norbert Scheffold at Memmingen Klinikum
Senior physician Dr. Norbert Scheffold (left) and Ethiopian guest physician Dr. Abraha Hailu in the courtyard of the hospital. Photo: Häfele/Press Office Klinikum Memmingen
Dr. Abraha Hailu from Ethiopia, East Africa, stands in the cardiac catheterization laboratory of the Memmingen Clinic with a surgical cap and lead apron and assists his German colleagues. What looks like an everyday procedure on an ordinary morning is anything but normal for the Ethiopian guest doctor. After two years of civil war, everyday life in his African homeland is marked by destruction, hunger and suffering.
"We don't have medicines, protective clothing, inventory," says the 43-year-old cardiologist. He works at the Ayder Hospital in the northern Ethiopian city of Mekelle, about an hour's flight from the capital Addis Ababa. "Our equipment is broken," he continues, enumerating: "No X-ray examination, no computed tomography, no magnetic resonance imaging." The cardiac catheterization laboratory, which was ceremoniously opened in 2015 at the Ayder Hospital and in which Dr. Norbert Scheffold from the Memmingen Clinic trained many Ethiopian doctors, is also no longer functional: "Such devices must be maintained regularly," explains senior physician Scheffold,a member of the German aid organization Etiopia-Witten e.V. (see info box). "The device software, batteries and also the hydraulics of operating tables - all of this is broken after two years of war.
War destroyed and medical equipment stolen, Although there has been a ceasefire between the hostile civil war troops in northern Ethiopia for several months, normality is far from being an option. "We have electricity, telephone, and internet again, but the supply chains have been destroyed and we can't get important medicines and materials," the doctor complains. In addition, according to the 43-year-old, all surrounding health facilities in the hospital. "Now sick people come to us at Ayder Hospital from far away, and we can't provide them with adequate care." The civil war in his homeland is considered one of the most brutal and deadly conflicts in the world. According to reports, it has caused half a million deaths so far. During the war, the embattled province of Tigray, where Dr. Abraha Hailu lives, was cut off from the outside world for a long time: No electricity, no mobile phone network, no fuel. Many died of starvation. In addition, mass rape was used as a weapon of war. Dr. Abraha Hailu tells of refugees, wounded and severely traumatized girls and women in the Ayder Hospital, of malnourished children. Some doctors and nurses had also collapsed from hunger. For two years, he did not receive a salary for his grueling and self-sacrificing work. In Memmingen, the father of two is now trying to refresh his basic knowledge of cardiology. "I'm very happy to be here. I enjoy the peace and quiet. Dr. Abraha Hailu hopes that this will eventually be possible again in his Ethiopian homeland. "Hope," he says. Hope gives him strength and drives him.
The Ethiopian guest physician Dr. Abraha Hailu (left) assists the cardiologist Christian Neumann during a cardiac catheterization at the Memmingen Hospital. Photo: Klinikum Memmingen
Etiopia-Witten e.V. Etiopia-Witten is a non-profit association founded by doctors with the aim of providing development aid in Ethiopia. The association has its main focus in the city of Witten. Numerous members and supporters come from all parts of Germany. The main focus of its activities is the city of Mekelle, the capital of Ethiopia's northern province of Tigray, with the Ayder Hospital University Hospital.