Myungsung Christian Medical Center – Ethiopia
Ethiopia is a historically rich nation located in the Horn of Africa on the northeast corner of the continent. Amharic and English are the primary languages of Ethiopia. Its people have been rebuilding from a series of famines in the 1980s, a serious drought in 2011, and a border war in the north with Eritrea that lasted some twelve years.
Myungsung Christian Medical Center (MCM) arose from an appeal by the Ethiopian government to provide advanced medical care in its capital city, Addis Ababa. Since 2004, hundreds of international healthcare professionals have served at MCM, answering the needs of this nation that continues to suffer great shortages throughout all sectors of healthcare.
Location & Community
Addis Ababa is a city of some three million in the center of Ethiopia, on the horn of Eastern Africa. It is located at the base of Mount Entoto at 7,546ft and is a subtropical climate with temperatures ranging from 68-86F. Their winter is from mid-November to January with the heaviest rainfall from June to early October.
Historically, Addis Ababa was an imperial city until its occupation by Italy in the 1930’s. Since then it has been one of the political and economical centers of Eastern Africa with the African Union’s headquarters located here.
Become familiar with Ethiopia’s culture, history and economy by reviewing the Wikipedia Ethiopia Profile. Rich resource for Ethiopia health information include the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation IHME Ethiopia Country Profile and the World Health Organization Global Health Observatory Ethiopia Data.
Travel to Myungsung Christian Medical Center is via Bole International airport located 6km from the city center. Transportation via hospital shuttle can be arranged in advance, as the medical center is just 10 minutes from the airport.
For current information, please visit the embassy website appropriate for one’s home country. American citizens can visit the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, DC at https://www.ethiopianembassy.org for complete information.
Currently, a business visa is needed for volunteers at Myungsung Christian Medical Center. The medical center can assist in obtain temporary work permits required by all volunteers at the medical center. MCM will send a letter of invitation to the Ethiopian consulate on behalf of visitors.
Traveler’s Health & Safety
Malaria prophylaxis is not necessary if you do not leave Addis Ababa. In addition, the yellow fever vaccine is required to enter the country and it is recommended to be up to date on hepatitis A, hepatitis B, polio, typhoid, tetanus/diphtheria, meningococcal, and rabies. One should consult with their personal physician before traveling, and refer to the CDC Travel Website for the most up-to-date health information.
Ethiopia is one of the poorest nations in the world as their economy is primarily based on agriculture, one that which suffers extensively during their extended seasons of drought. Half of the patients served by the hospital are from Addis Ababa and the other half are from Eritrea, Somalia and Southern Sudan. Some of the patients walk for days to receive care at the medical center and are extremely grateful. In general, Ethiopian culture is very friendly and unhurried in nature.
Many of the patients have chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and coronary artery disease. However, the majority of the illnesses are related to infectious diseases, trauma, burns, malnutrition, birth defects or HIV/AIDS.
All Ethiopian higher education is done in English; thus, healthcare professionals in Ethiopia speak English and assist in translation for visitors. Approximately 1/3 of patients speak some English while the majority of patients speak Amharic, Arabic or a regional dialect.
Medical Care Services
Myungsung Medical Center was opened in 2004 as a private, nonprofit facility. It is funded primarily by Myungsung Church in South Korea, but also receives funds, supplies, and equipment from various governmental and non-governmental organizations. In addition, the medical center charges patients on a sliding scale fee-for-service basis.
The facility has 100 beds in five wards: one general surgery/neurosurgery, one orthopedics, one medicine, one pediatric, and one maternity. Outpatient clinics include pediatrics, medicine, ophthalmology, and dentistry. There is a new emergency room with a well-trained trauma team as well.
In addition to conventional x-ray machines, the hospital has a state of the art CT scanner. The operating rooms are very well equipped with two portable C-arm machines, an operating microscope, endoscopies/laparoscopies, and fully trained operating room personnel.
The founding South Korean church has a ministry at the medical center and the current director Chul Soo Kim is a from Myungsung. Sermons by an Ethiopian pastor are provided twice a week in the waiting room. Yet there is complete freedom for patients to express their own faiths. Christian, Muslim, and Jewish staff work together at the medical center.
HIV Care Services
Ethiopia has approximately 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS and has shown a decrease in the number of HIV/AIDS deaths due in part to improved access to treatment. The Ethiopian government pays for all patients with HIV/AIDS to receive antiretroviral treatment.
Myungsung Christian Medical Center has a specialized HIV department that specializes in the inpatient and outpatient care of patients with HIV. The team is eager to teach and train visitors in the care of HIV patients in resource poor settings.
Public Health Initiatives
Myungsung Medical Center is located in the inner city of Addis Ababa. In 2009, the medical center received mobile clinic facilities to conduct primary care clinics in the poorest areas of the city. They are fully equipped clinical facilities that rotate throughout the city providing care to patients who cannot make it to the medical center.
The medical center and visiting health profession teams from countries like Korea and the United States conduct frequent medical outreach trips to the surrounding villages: Ginchi (120km), Hagremariam (600km), and Gumuz (600km).
Healthcare Profession Staff
Myungsung Christian Medical Center are staffed by Ethiopian and international staff. Approximately half of the physicians and nurses are from Ethiopia, including the Chief Medical Officer. The other half are from countries like Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, Korea, Japan, and the United States. These are assisted by a variety of short-term healthcare personnel from Korea, Scandinavia, and the U.S. A particularly large contingent of America neurosurgeons serve at MCM on a rotating basis.
Myungsung has a strong emphasis on education and training. It is a teaching hospital for surgery residents from Ethiopian medical students and residents. In addition, medical students and residents from the Czech Republic, Great Britain, Germany, and the United States rotate throughout the year at Myungsung. In 2006, Myungsung and Johns Hopkins University started an agreement to share faculty and residents in exchange programs. Students and residents can choose the specialty service they want to rotate in including: nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, pediatrics, neurosurgery, internal medicine, general surgery, trauma surgery, orthopedic surgery, critical care, pediatric critical care, anesthesia, dentistry, obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, radiology, emergency medicine or laboratory medicine. The medical center’s neurosurgery department and training program is the only one in the nation.
In 2010 the medical center started construction on a medical school to educate and train Ethiopian nationals into physicians in all specialties. Its inaugural class began in the fall of 2012. Korea, Norway, Japan, and the U.S. have training affiliations with the medical center in different specialties.
At this time, INMED is only assigning resident physicians to service-learning rotations at MCM.
Student Lodging & Meals
Accommodations are provided in one of the two guesthouses. These are completely furnished range from 1 to 3 bedroom apartments with electricity, running water, refrigerators, showers, toilets, TVs, cooking facilities, and beds. There are no housekeeping services, but the guesthouses have a dining hall that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Wireless and LAN cable Internet are available in the guesthouses and visitors are encouraged to bring their own laptops. Cell phone service to the U.S. is intermittent.
INMED invites all participants to consider raising extra funds to donate to support this facility. While such efforts are not required, they will provide opportunities INMED personnel to become involved in this important aspect of international medicine.
Addis Ababa has a broad array of restaurants with very tasty Ethiopian cuisine. The national museum is ranked among Sub-Saharan Africa’s best and houses the famous “missing link” of evolution, Lucy. Visitors also like to visit some of the oldest Christian churches in the world made of stone cut into the ground. Mount Kilimanjaro is a short 2 hour flight away and has some of the best hiking and safaris in Africa.
Behavior & Dress
The best policy is to be conservative and modest when going into public and working in the hospital. Myungsung’s policy is for long sleeves or 3/4 length sleeves when working in the hospital. MEN: Wear slacks and a lab coat for hospital work. WOMEN: Skirts to mid-calf or longer. Modest tops should cover the shoulders, midriff and cleavage. Tight clothing is not acceptable in the culture. Long scarves, wraps, sweaters, or jackets are usually needed for the evenings and early mornings. Bring sport shoes or sandals for off-duty wear.
What To Pack
Visitors should bring copies of any healthcare profession licenses, diplomas, or certifications. It is recommended to also pack a carry-on bag that has essential items just in case one’s luggage becomes lost. Past visitors and Myungsung staff recommend:
- Laptop computer
- International voltage converter (220Volt, 50Hz)
- Bug spray
- Water bottle
- Flashlight and batteries
- Sun screen
- Hand soap
*If one wishes to bring donated items such as medicine, medical equipment, or supplies please contact the Myungsung Christian Medical Center administration in advance to prepare the appropriate documentation needed by the Ethiopian Customs Department.