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improving care for infants and their families

Tikur Anbessa NICU Project

Black Lion Hospital

Approximately 120,000 babies die every year in the first four weeks of life in Ethiopia. The 2005 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) indicated that primary causes of neonatal deaths are prematurity, perinatal asphyxia, sepsis, tetanus, diarrhea and congenital anomalies. Currently, there is only one neonatologist in Ethiopia, based at the Tikur Anbessa Hospital, the major teaching hospital for Addis Ababa University. The Tikur Anbessa NICU also is staffed with 3 neonatology fellows, several consulting pediatricians, medical students, and 13 NICU nurses. The neonatal unit is able to accommodate as many as 60 patients and has an average daily census of between 20 and 40 infants. There is now a fellowship program in neonatology with three exceptional trainees.

The aim of the Addis Ababa University - Vermont Oxford Network – Tikur Anbessa NICU Project collaboration is to improve the quality of medical care for newborn infants and their families in Ethiopia through training and research designed to address the specific needs and resource constraints of the country. Since 2009, 15 teams of medical professionals from the US have served as volunteers at the Tikur Anbessa Hospital. The teams provide bedside teaching and lectures to medical students, residents, fellows and nurses. The Vermont Oxford Network funds travel expenses, Addis Ababa University provides housing, and the specialists contribute their time.

We have developed strong professional relationships among health care providers in our two countries and contributed to the training of Ethiopian health professionals in neonatal medicine and nursing. As we move into our fifth year of the volunteer program, numerous participants have made repeat visits to Addis Ababa to continue their volunteer work with the Tikur Anbessa NICU team. We thank Dr. Bogale, Dr. Sr. Berhane, and all of the staff and trainees at the Tikur Anbessa Hospital for the hospitality, kindness, learning opportunities and professional collegiality that our volunteers have received. We look forward to many more successful years ahead.

Black Lion Training

Phillip Platt, a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner with Baptist St. Anthony’s Hospital in Amarillo, TX, has made four visits to Addis Ababa for the Tikur Anbessa NICU Project and has contributed an informative two-part article for “Global Matters” on his experience as a Tikur Anbessa NICU Project volunteer for two terms. Part 1 appeared in the November-December 2010 Newsletter. Part 2 appeared in the January-February 2011 issue.

In addition to the volunteer project, neonatal fellows Dr. Asrat Demtse, Dr. Hailu Berta and Dr. Goitom Gebreyesus of the Tikur Anbessa NICU, spent a month at centers in the US for training, research and clinical observation. We extend our thanks to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital and mentors, Steve Ringer, MD, Ed Donovan, MD, and Ekhard Ziegler, MD, for hosting these fellows and for providing them with this extraordinary opportunity and experience. Travel was funded by the University of Addis Ababa, housing was provided by the participating centers and the visiting fellow’s living expense stipend was provided by Vermont Oxford Network.

If you are neonatologist, neonatal nurse, neonatal nurse practitioner or other allied health professional with training and experience in neonatal intensive care please consider joining us as a volunteer. For information please contact: Nancy Cloutier, Project Coordinator, email:

Vermont Oxford Network and Tikur Anbessa Hospital thank the following medical professionals who have generously volunteered their time, expertise and care:

  • Stephen Chentow, MD
  • Howard Cohen, MD
  • Cindy Davis, NNP
  • Edward Donovan, MD
  • Thomas Eusterbrock, MD
  • Barry Finette, MD
  • Anne Fuertes, BSN, RNC
  • Balaji Govindaswami, MD
  • Suzanne Hally, RN
  • Georgis Kefale, MD
  • Teri Kiehn, RN
  • Alganesh Kifle, RN
  • Mubariz Naqvi, MD
  • Terri Phillips DiFazio, MD
  • Phillip Platt, NNP
  • Louis Pollack, MD
  • William Raszka, MD
  • Steve Ringer, MD
  • Jonathan Spector, MD
  • Misrak Tadesse, MD
  • Linda Tutt, RN
  • Ekhard Ziegler, MD

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