The Ethiopia ACT team “seeks out and serves the poorest, sickest and most marginalized residents of Addis Ababa.” The project began fifteen years ago at the peak of the HIV epidemic, acting primarily as a hospice service. With the introduction of antiretroviral treatments, the project shifted to aiding patients with HIV to live longer, healthier lives. Today the project has the holistic goal of bringing wholeness to the complete person and their communities. Serving approximately 400 families in some of poorest slums of Addis Ababa, community healthcare workers on the Ethiopia ACT team meet with beneficiaries to learn their needs and find out how they can best support them.
Their goal is to “graduate” beneficiaries from the program in about a year in better health and financial conditions. The backbone of their project is support groups which educate on compliance, health practices (particularly HIV-specific care) as well as offering group therapy and accountability. Their services range from food provisions, an Income Generation Initiative (microfinance and job training), support of faith communities in these neighborhoods, and promote public and individual health.
This last element, health, is a major aspect of the work of the Ethiopia ACT team. Initiatives include clean water projects, mats for hut floors, mattresses for beds, shoes for children, and providing medications and medical treatment. For the majority of the day to day health issues, especially involving HIV and TB, the community health care workers are well equipped. This is a major asset to these communities as the slums on the outskirts of Addis Ababa do not make access to the overstretched government health sites possible. When more complicated or unusual cases arise, the Ethiopia ACT team arranges for beneficiaries to attend health clinics that occur 5-6 times per year with visiting teams of medical practitioners from the United States hosted by Ethiopia ACT.
The history of the Addis Clinic’s relationship with Ethiopia ACT began when the eventual founder of the Addis Clinic, Stephen Chan, joined one of those visiting medical teams about ten years ago. While there (at a time when internet capabilities were quickly improving), he began to envision ways that medical professionals might support the project so Ethiopia ACT was not relying on visiting clinicians a few times a year. Rather, the team would be able to access highly trained professionals for advice any day of the year.
Shortly after Steve’s visit, he and Jonathan Cahill began to discuss how they might make this vision a reality. Thus began the Addis Clinic and its aim of providing quality longitudinal care to the poorest of global patients while simultaneously offering physicians here in the U.S. an opportunity to give back by volunteering without the financial and time expenses required for a short-term trip to Ethiopia.
As the Addis Clinic’s longest partnership, the collaboration with Ethiopia ACT continues to be strong and greatly valued. Ethiopia ACT has tested multiple platforms and provided valuable feedback on ways the Addis Clinic can better assist local teams on the ground. At the same time, the Addis Clinic has provided valuable medical advice for many patients helping to further the Ethiopia ACT’s goal of seeking wholeness for the poorest and sickest in Addis Ababa.
To learn more about Ethiopia ACT, visit: https://ethiopiaact.org/