On 11 November 2017 at the United Nations conference hall, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia something took place that would change the way we look at infectious and non-infectious diseases in the region. Ohio State University’s Global One Health Initiative opened its Eastern Africa regional office in the center of Africa’s political capital, Addis Ababa. The ceremony celebrated GOHI’s registration as an NGO in Ethiopia. Those who took part in the ceremony, officially strengthening their partnership, were amongst others, dignitaries from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Brazil, Netherlands, the United States and Ohio State University.
The Ohio State University’s Global One Health initiative is in the process of addressing infectious diseases and other non- communicable diseases in Eastern Africa using the Global One Health approach.
GOHI has been working with universities, NGOs and relevant government offices across Eastern Africa for the last nine years and is focused on addressing One Health via research, training and the application of best practices in public health.
Dr. Misrak Mekonen, minister of livestock and fisheries, Prof. Afework Kassu, State minister of science and technology, Dr. Desalegn Mengesha, President of UoG and Dr. Bruce Mcpheron, provost of the Ohio State University gave speeches to the dignitaries and honored guest who numbered around 80 individuals. With this problem of infectious diseases and cancer being prevalent throughout the Horn of Africa, Dr. Desalegn Mengesha expressed his wish to make a difference in the best possible way to bring positive change.
Dr. Desalegn brought up the long standing relationship between the Ohio State University and the University of Gondar that stems some 8 years back. Since the signing of MOU’s the partnership between the two institutions has been growing.
“In the last 5-6 years we have been able to organize summer institutes in collaboration with 3 institutions, including Addis Ababa University,” Dr. Desalgen said. He continued, “We have been able to cover a multitude of different courses, seminars, workshops, research projects, staff student exchanges and various other activities.”
The summer institute which brings instructors from abroad to Ethiopia to teach East Africans here in the country has been benefiting the people. In its 5-6 years of operation the students were able to get a different perspective, via highly trained university teachers from abroad, in the courses they hold dear.
Dr. Bruce Mcpheron, the provost, executive vice president of OSU, who is only second to the president of Ohio’s flagship educational institution also spoke of the significance of such an initiative. He expressed OSU’s values that motivate cooperation and growth on multiple levels.
“Global One Health initiative aligns with 3 key Ohio State University priorities,” he said. He stated that health and wellness, food production and food security and sustainability are the driving factors that are the pillars of his institution. These values and priorities not only govern OSU but, according to the provost, it also makes its way into the partnerships and collaborations the institution makes at home and abroad.
After the meeting was commenced the group of dignitaries, guests and officials went to the newly opened regional office for a ceremonial cutting of the ribbon to inaugurate the headquarters.
GOHI is working to reduce the global risks related to other diseases and critical health issues, including antibiotic resistance stemming from antibiotic overuse and misuse, through research, policy and practice. The MOU which was signed between the OSU provost and UoG president will pave a way for further collaboration and may include other disciplinary areas in the future.
The regional office will serve as a central foundational location to coordinate efforts between Ohio State and the Eastern Africa region, with a focus primarily on One Health activities.
By Samuel Malede| Public and International Relations Directorate