Our mission to increase access to rheumatology care in resource-limited areas has taken a huge leap forward: Becky Adugna and Birhanu Desyiblelew have completed their rheumatology training in Durbin, South Africa, and have established the first Rheumatology Unit at Tikur Ambessa Hospital in Ethiopia.
Next, they plan within a year to strengthen the rheumatology unit nursing staff and establish a procedure facility for joint injections and chemotherapy administration. Becky and Birhanu will supervise the rheumatology clinic and prepare patient educational material. They will participate in both teaching and patient care activities, including morning meeting presentations and in-hospital consultations with the medical residents. They will institute a rheumatology lecture program for third-year medical students and medical residents and supervise these students in both inpatient and outpatient encounters. These medical residents will then have the skills to diagnose and either treat or refer patients earlier in the course of their disease. It is only by treating patients early that disability and even death. can be prevented.
The general public lacks an understanding about the diseases rheumatologists can treat. Becky and Birhanu will start a public awareness program using public media. This is especially important because public information in the local language is severely limited. On May 10, 2021, they will conduct a publicly available symposium on Lupus. They intend in the next two to three years to take the lead in teaching rheumatology to third-year medical students. They also plan to establish patient groups and associations to promote awareness in rheumatic disease and management. Rheumatology for All will continue to mentor Birhanu and Becky and prepare continuing medical education programs for medical doctors and doctors in training.
In partnership with the College ofPharmacy at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Rheumatology for All will run a webinar in May/June 2021 for the Ethiopian Pharmacy Association to review the most effective drugs for treating patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease. Since there was no rheumatologist in Ethiopia until recently, this update will be particularly helpful.
Rheumatology for All is currently running a three-month educational program in rheumatology for medical residents in Rwanda. This is being done virtually. We are proud to have faculty from Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Canada and the United States. As we gain experience with our learning platform, we will expand our reach and therefore, our impact in other areas. Flory Masisa, MD, head of the department of internal medicine at the National University of Rwanda, wrote just prior to our starting this program:
Rheumatology for All has seen the huge difference well-trained rheumatologists can make for local communities. We have now started working with local medical leadership in Rwanda and Ethiopia to identify two more candidates for a rheumatology fellowship. Unfortunately, costs for these programs continue to rise substantially. We are grateful for your continued support to help us accomplish our mission of increasing access to rheumatology care.