For ten years now, the Hadassah Medical Organization has played an important role in improving the health of Ethiopia’s people. One of HMO’s most important contributions has been in HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. As you read this, Hadassah’s AIDS Center (HAC) is conducting an AIDS treatment program at the St. Paul Hospital in Addis Ababa in collaboration with the Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute (EHNRI) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC provided the funding for AIDS treatment in Ethiopia with antiretroviral drugs and developed the delivery infrastructure. The project is under the umbrella of US President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).HAC has also teamed up with the CDC to run an advanced training course in Israel on AIDS Medicine for Ethiopian doctors and nurses. Last March the first group of 15 Ethiopian doctors and nurses came to Israel to be trained. “The course was a smashing success,” reports Prof. Shlomo Maayan, head of HMO’s AIDS Center. Another course is being organized and trainees are expected to arrive in Israel shortly.Prof. Maayan notes that Ambassador Richard Schifter, Chair of the American Jewish Committee’s International Relations Commission, was extremely instrumental in linking HMO with the CDC. Ambassador Schifter served as US Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, as well as the US representative to the Geneva-based United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

As Prof. Maayan explains: “We at HAC teach the multidisciplinary team approach for treatment of AIDS in Ethiopia. The model, based on our experience with the approximately 300 Ethiopian AIDS patients in Jerusalem under our care, includes treatment of adults as well as children.”

HAC, Prof. Maayan reports, has also initiated a link between the Israeli Reference Laboratory on HIV Resistance at Israel’s Tel Hashomer Hospital and EHNRI. The first round of training Ethiopian technicians at Tel Hashomer has already taken place.

Also in the exploratory stages is a collaborative project in the field of pediatric AIDS between the pediatric department at HMO under Prof. Dan Engelhardt and Ethiopian pediatricians. Professors Maayan and Engelhardt plan to go to Ethiopia in July for meetings at Gondar University regarding another AIDS project. This one would involve HAC becoming partners with Gondar University in an AIDS treatment and prevention program under the umbrella of the CDC that would cover the entire Gondar region.

In reflecting on his work in Africa, Prof. Maayan notes: “I am fulfilling my dues as an HMO medical doctor. The knowledge we gathered at Hadassah in the field of AIDS medicine stands to make a big difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands in Africa in the next few years.”