Arba Minch University signs 2nd phase of NORAD project

AMU has signed the 2nd phase of Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) Project – ‘South Ethiopia Network of Universities in Public Health’ with 4 universities, Ethiopian Ministry of Health and University of Bergen. The budget outlay of this 5-year project is ETB 70.735 Million (NOK 15,500,000) whose renewal is purely depending upon mutual consent of partnering institutions.

Having assessed it by Independent Review Committee, Norad has selected this project under Norwegian Program for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research Development (NORHED) and the project partners further signed the agreement with a view of ensuring sustainable economic, social and environmental development in low and middle income countries.

In that regard, the University President, Dr Damtew Darza, in his letter to Prof Bernt Lindtjorn of Centre for International Health in University of Bergen, Norway, reiterating AMU’s commitment, said, our sole aim is to establish strong link with veteran scientist of your university that will assist us to advance the quality of research. It will enable us to introduce novel techniques and approaches enhancing the intensity of scientific debate, exchange of ideas and creating optimal research environment for young researchers.

Broadly all partner institutions are committed to improve health of people in South Ethiopia i.e. prevention and treatment of communicable diseases i.e. malaria, tuberculosis, emerging and reemerging viral diseases – Covid-19 and yellow fever. They will set priority and explore novel ways for health insurance, prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases with emphasis on diabetes and hypertension disorders.

And will also render child health services, especially improving vaccination coverage and decentralized treatment of pneumonia, implement novel methods to reduce child, adolescent and maternal malnutrition through the application of potentially new local products. Ultimately they will enhance quality of teaching in public health and similarly conduct essential public health research in respective institutions.

Especially, AMU being in South West Ethiopia enjoys strategic importance because during 1st phase of Norad Project; it has started specific training program at Master level in controlling vector-borne diseases i.e. malaria, leishmaniasis and yellow fever that has trained many staff who are serving as managers and researchers all across. And, this capacity further will be strengthened in improving health policy decisions in Ethiopia; and in future, it may also launch PhD program on vector-borne and infectious diseases.

The Project Coordinator, Dr Fikedu Massebo, highlighting 1st phase advantages for AMU, said, during project cycle, 30 Master students including 50% females were graduated in Medical Entomology & Vector Control, office car bought, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine was installed; female students with and without salary and pregnant students were granted financial aid and researchers could get required financial assistance for their research, he added.

The project is expected to bolster post-graduate education, build institutional capacity to handle graduate training; enhance applied gender-sensitive research undertaking capacity; ensure quality Master and PhD training and equitable gender representation and stipulated changes in the budget line.

Hawassa University serving as the base university for PhD training is expected to develop advanced course on infectious disease control that includes modeling exercises for surveillance of communicable diseases in Southern Ethiopia that will be essential for control of new and emerging infectious diseases such as Covid-19 but also supposed to improve surveillance and control of malaria, yellow fever and measles.

And the 3rd partner, Dilla University, will support 2 Master programs in Nutrition and Reproductive & Child Health, collaborate with Gedeo Zone and establish public-health interventions to support impoverished area to improve workers’ capacity in the Ministry of Health on nutrition and child health.

Above all the University of Bergen being Centre for International Health will collaborate with above mentioned three universities on strengthening postgraduate education and implementation of important research findings that will be done through strengthening of supervisory skills and mentoring senior researchers at these universities.

(Communication Affairs Directorate)