By Bayleyegn Molla, DVM, PhD
College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University
This week, I had a chance to tour the microbiology at the University of Gondar Hospital.
The lab processes hundreds of samples from patients every month. Patient samples are accepted, labeled and sent on to the microbiology lab where they are placed in different agars and broths to check for the growth of bacteria in patient samples.
I was surprised when the staff showed us a large book where the date, source, and patient information are recorded. This can be a time consuming task and makes it difficult to transmit results efficiently to clinicians. Papers can be torn, lost, or burned.
It is a less than ideal system.
When I asked to see the computer, they happily showed us the new electronic system to track individual results including results, name of the organism recovered, and information about antibiotic resistance for each organism. Having this system allows more rapid feedback to clinic staff and can be used to research problems in microbiology.
I was relieved and encouraged that they were using this technology.
This made me reflect on how I still rely on older systems in my old work. They are comfortable for us to use. In order to really harness technology to address important health and food safety problems, I also need to help develop effective technology, trust it to perform, and use it to its maximum.
That is what I learned in the microbiology lab.
We were very excited to welcome four Ohio State students to Gondar yesterday. They are beginning their work on the needs assessment for a rabies prevention/elimination project.
Last night over a traditional Ethiopian dinner, the group met with University of Gondar Veterinary Medicine Dean Dr. Mersha Chanie, Chair of Sociology Molalign Belay, guest Dr. Judd Walson from the University of Washington’s Department of Global Health, and Ohio Staters including Veterinary Medicine Professor Baye Molla, College of Nursing Vice Dean Usha Menon and other College of Nursing faculty.
One thing that struck me was the diversity and intensity of the group. These four students represent the breadth of programs at Ohio State and how interdisciplinary work can bring creative and innovative perspectives to important problems.
Third-year veterinary student Karissa Magnuson is interested in wildlife veterinary medicine. Ally Sterman is a third-year veterinary student with an interest in shelter medicine and public health approaches to veterinary problems. Korbin Smith, BS ’13, was inspired by Dr. Randall Harris in the College of Public Health to consider opportunities in public health. Heading up the team is graduate student Laura Binkley, who is working on a Master’s degrees in public health and wildlife ecology.
Absolutely striking was the passion that each student brought to their particular interests and the lively discussion about where interests overlap and intersect. This is the kind of collaboration that we can build only at a major academic institution like Ohio State.
by Bayleyegn Molla, DVM, PhD
Clinical Assistant Professor and International Programs Coordinator
Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine
Our hope is to establish ongoing collaborative relationships–not just during the One Health Summer Institute, but well in to the future. We hope to be able to build a mutually beneficial partnership between faculty and students at Ohio State and University of Gondar, which will help leverage expertise and open opportunities for all.
For participants from Ethiopia, this experience can bring the world-class knowledge and expertise of Ohio State to address important public health problems, though training and ongoing working relationships. Partners at the University of Gondar bring a wealth of knowledge about local priorities and infrastructure.
Research and practice priorities are well organized in thematic areas with an emphasis on team-based research.
For faculty from Ohio State, this partnership offers the opportunity to explore and help develop solutions to tropical diseases, wildlife and environmental issues, and to apply new approaches in a different culture and region. This opportunity helps expand the capabilities for students trained through the University of Gondar and faculty to use this knowledge to address important issues in Ohio, in our country, and throughout the world.
It is very rewarding to see this partnership in action in the One Health Summer Institute. Students and faculty from nursing, public health, veterinary medicine, basic sciences, and human medicine have been discussing important problems such:
- Food-borne illnesses
- MRSA prevention
- Cervical cancer
- Zoonotic diseases
More importantly, these workshops explore potential ways to work together in the coming months and years.
The “One Health” framework is an excellent foundation on which to build this partnership, because it relies on contributions from a range of scientific experts and the active engagement of students in workshop sessions.
Being from Ethiopia originally, and now as a faculty member at Ohio State, it is tremendously rewarding to see the engagement of both universities in an effort to improve health.