Mission of goodwill

With their cell phone cameras in hand, five UT Southwestern clinicians recently documented their journey 8,000 miles away to a country in desperate need of neurologists. As part of UT Southwestern’s Global Health Initiative, they’re building a first-of-its-kind telemedicine program in Ethiopia, and for one of them the mission is deeply personal.


[Dr. Mehari] Team UT Southwestern going to Bahir Dar.

[Woman] Most important member of our team.

Really? Okay, sure. This is what it looks like. These are the streets of the neighborhood.

What can we do? What would be helpful to all of you in terms of looking at this other aspect of medical care? This place just has a lot of potential.

[Mehari] Were going back to our offices area where we make rounds.

There has to be somebody who's willing to take the helm.

This is the waiting area for the outpatient clinic. This is the ICU. I'll be walking in there to meet my team. The understanding and awareness of epilepsy is very, very low. People are very scared, and they think it has something to do with being possessed by some spirit or devil. I'm here with Fikir, the Mental Health Specialist at Felege HIWOT Hospital and Bahir Dar University and she takes care of the bulk of epilepsy patients here. According to Fikir, about 60 percent of patients who come here for a mental health evaluation end up actually having a problem of epilepsy. Because of the lack of knowledge, the family was taking him to different religious places not knowing what was going on. This is the EEG lab. As you can see this is where the patient gets the examination and would be hooked up to these computers. Actually, we have tested the system by connecting it through cloud technology to UT Southwestern and the goal is to eventually establish the tele-EEG to continue to work. We've tested the system and it works. So we just made our rounds, and we're going around the hospital. Part of it is trying to also encompass many, many many neurological illnesses including autism. has become very, very prevalent in Ethiopia, especially in this area. And there is very little understanding and a lot of stigmatization. The University of Texas Southwestern actually have a lab with Dr. Maria Chahrour, who studies the genetics of autism, and we are also advocating for an autism center that can intervene early on with the kids and also allows the family to go and work and earn money and improve everybody's life. We're gonna miss this place, hopefully, we're gonna come back here one day. These people are, you know, they're very happy to see us, they're very excited.