This year, 2019, marks the 40th year anniversary of the historic partnership between the Gondar College of Medical Sciences- GCMS (then under Addis Ababa University) and the then Karl Marx University (now University of Leipzig). It was this partnership which transformed the historic Gondar Public Health College into Gondar College of Medical Science and thereby creating the 2nd medical school in Ethiopia.
From 1979 to 1989, every year teachers from Germany in all disciplines ranging from Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry on one hand to clinical disciplines such as Internal Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics and Gynecology-Obstetrics came to Gondar to teach.
Though University of Leipzig took on the lion share of responsibility including the leadership of the partnership, it is to be recalled that Professors from many other universities came to Gondar, including from Universities in Magdeburg, Greifswald, Rostock, Jena, Erfurt, Halle and others.
Against all odds, starting from scratch, they managed to build a new medical school. Now the University of Gondar Medical School is one of the best in Ethiopia. The graduates of the medical school that the Germans started, have become as good as graduates from established medical schools elsewhere in the world.
In addition to being great physicians & clinicians, many have become leaders in their own country including Minsters of Health and University Presidents; and Professors and leaders in Europe and in the US; and they have become leaders of health care institutions and entrepreneurs everywhere.
The 1979-1989 time period was a very turbulent time in Ethiopian history. The dedication the German professors showed to come in such a bad time to Ethiopia and help jumpstart a medical school will always be remembered fondly by the Gondar University and its alumni.
It is with this background that the idea of celebrating the 40th year anniversary came about. Two things came together to make the events happen. First in Germany, Professor Gerd Birkenmeier, a biochemist and one of the first group of teachers who came to Gondar in 1979, started the idea of preparing a celebration in Leipzig, which culminated in the celebration on September 28, 2019.
Unrelated to this, People to People, a nonprofit organization established by Ethiopian physicians in the US, selected Professor Dieter Reissig, the leader of the first group of German Professors who came to Gondar in 1979, for its annual Lifetime Achievement award.
The award was given to Professor Reissig on October 19, 2019 in the Washington DC metro area. With this background the University of Gondar Alumni Steering Committee also organized a celebration event which was held on October 20, 2019 in the Washington DC metro area.
( Source: University of Gondar Alumni Steering Committee)