The project will help EMeWA – an organisation established by female physicians in Ethiopia – to fulfil its vision to establish an excellence center for women physicians through one of its main thematic areas of professional development. As part of the collaboration Medics.Academy will be investing £250,000 GBP (over 12 million Ethiopian Birr) in building a new learning community to provide digital access to training and support a target of 70% of female physicians in Ethiopia over the next 5 years – identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the 57 countries in the world with a chronic shortage of health workers.
The collaboration has been endorsed by the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia and, by championing access to online education, aims to drive digital transformation to help address the country’s health workforce needs, promote professional development and achieve greater representation and leadership of women in medicine.
Women continue to lead a rather marginal existence in medicine. Although there are now more female than male medical students, professorships and directorships are almost exclusively held by men. This imbalance was addressed with the lecture series ‘Women in Focus’ at the 2019 European Congress of Radiology (ECR).
Globally, the Covid-19 crisis has led to a significant shift to digital adoption that will likely persist post-pandemic. While there has been high growth in the adoption of education technology in recent years, this move has been deeply accelerated by Covid-19. Remote learning has become a vital part of education delivery and all across the world has been enrolled into the ‘new normal’. Dr Alastair McPhail CMG OBE, UK Ambassador to Ethiopia, said: “We are very proud of the partnerships between the UK and Ethiopia on health. The coronavirus pandemic has stretched health systems and healthcare workers to their limits. I hope that this new partnership will inspire and upskill female doctors across Ethiopia, directly contributing to high quality, equitable health services and ending the avoidable deaths of mothers and children.”
Even though women make up the larger proportion in the healthcare industry, they are not visible in leadership as we want them to be due to the various challenges they face to advance their professional growth
The pandemic has also brought pressures on health systems around the world and highlighted already existing health shortages. This includes a projected shortfall of 18 million health workers worldwide by 2030. In Ethiopia, WHO has been supporting the Ministry of Health to help increase the number of health workers and improve their skills since the beginning of the pandemic. Dr Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, added: “Professional Development of women in healthcare is an area of priority for us in Ethiopia. Even though women make up the larger proportion in the healthcare industry, they are not visible in leadership as we want them to be due to the various challenges they face to advance their professional growth. As a result, we have few women representation in places where their voice matters and their contributions are vital. This partnership will help change this by creating an innovative learning hub that will help women foster their leadership role and advance in their careers.”
Over the last four years EMeWA has been working on professional development, rights of women physicians and community development to bring a holistic advancement of women in the health sector. The organization has been providing training on soft skills and mentorship for women physicians in their early careers and has a webinar series where major topics in the health sector are discussed. EMeWA has also been increasing the visibility of women physicians who are exemplary in their practice through its Celebrating Women project which served as an inspiration for many and highlighted the increasing role of women in the healthcare system of the country.
Going forward, Medics.Academy will be working with the organisation to deliver tailored education programmes that can drive improvements in skills and diversify the country’s healthcare workforce. Dr. Senayit Beyene, the President of EMeWA commented: “The project will help deliver quality and affordable learning opportunities which are both accredited and acceptable both locally and internationally. It will also create the platform to establish strong and practical networks and connections around the world for collaborations and mentorship. Our ultimate goal is to develop a learning community that acknowledges and builds on the different skill sets of its members at all levels. I am confident that Medics.Academy’s pioneering education platform will help to plug this gap in a sustainable manner.”
Empowering women in health leadership is a core strategic focus for Medics.Academy. The company supported the establishment of the Women in Healthcare Leadership (WIHL) programme to increase opportunity for representative leadership in the UK’s NHS. The programme has since expanded overseas, supporting healthcare professionals and building a supportive platform that champions inclusivity at leadership level. Dr Johann Malawana, Chief Executive Officer at Medics.Academy, said: “Over the last four years, we have sought to formalise various initiatives, to promote diversity of thought and ideas and help to create a global community of healthcare leaders of the future. Inclusivity is absolutely key to leadership and this collaboration is reflective of our long-term strategy to foster frontline innovation and increase women’s representation in healthcare globally. Our overall objective is to work towards removing gender and other barriers, to pursuing leadership roles in Healthcare.”