The beginning of 2021, marred by the suffering imposed by Covid, gives no respite and still offers too many pale hopes, promised by pharmaceutical companies, as salvific.

At the beginning of the year GSI Italia, continuing its solidarity activity in Italy and in Europe, receives an important recognition for its action from the Terzo Pilastro Internazionale Foundation, with the approval of a project dear to our association, that of the professional training of doctors and physiotherapists at the University of Gondar and St Paul’s Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The intervention program of GSI Italia in Ethiopia, in agreement with the local Ministry of Health and the two important health centers of Gondar and Addis Ababa, is the preparation of qualified personnel in a sufficiently high number, to ensure the rehabilitation of people affected by serious and various trauma.

Accidental fall such as a car accident or a burn, a dystocial childbirth as a stroke, are frequent causes of incapacity if not partial or total disability, temporary or permanent. This is true everywhere, it is more easily in Ethiopia, where the recovery of a function is not in the reasonable expectations of an individual but in his only hope, which will almost always mortified by the finding of a permanent damage to be accepted as inevitable. Physiotherapy modifies this reality, returning a reason of hope to patients’ expectations, as it should be, even in Ethiopia, if only physiotherapy will have the right to practice and its study will be included in the university training plans for the development of new and qualified skills. This is GSI Italia’s program for the next three years.

Only 5% of those in need of rehabilitation obtain rehabilitative responses in Ethiopia (WHO data) and they are physiotherapeutic interventions only in a tenth of the cases. In Ethiopia physiotherapists are only about 500, trained at Gondar University, the only training school for physiotherapists, active since 2002. Only 30 of them are specialized with Post Grad diploma.

At St Paul’s Millennium Medical College in Addis Ababa, the capital’s main hospital, a staff of 11 physiotherapists treats 1900 patients/ year. The Department of Physiotherapy of Gondar University deals with 1600.

Only 3500 cases/year are treated in the two main health centers of Ethiopian physiotherapy.

Two highly qualified missions of Italian physiatrics (2017-18) assessed the situation with the health decision-makers of the two mentioned entities and with the Minister of Health, with whom GSI Italia signed (March 2018) a four-year health assistance agreement and programmed a three-year specialized training in Gondar, for 50 new physiotherapy specialists and a three-year first qualification course in physiotherapy for 30 rehabilitation therapists at St Paul’s Hospital of Addis Ababa, with the partnership of the Specialization School in Sports Medicine of the Federico II University of Naples. A final 3 month internship for each of the trainees trained in hospitals and Ethiopian health facilities, for the introduction and strengthening of physiotherapy practice and a promotion in Ethiopia of a widespread rehabilitative culture.

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