“It has been a privilege to have been welcomed so often to Ethiopia”

The Chair of a Sheffield-based group that has provided support and advice to a partner hospital in Ethiopia is set to stand down.

Anne Russell, the chair of Sheffield Health Action Resource for Ethiopia (SHARE) and a former ward manager at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, is stepping back from the role due to moving to Edinburgh.

Pic: Anne Russell (left) with Cariad Evans

SHARE is an international health link between Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and hospitals in Tigray region of Ethiopia. The link was established in 2000, with the main partner hospital being the Mekelle University Ayder Referral Hospital.

Anne said: “Over the years we have done lots of different work with them, from clinical support to developing services. I have been every year since 2001 and have now been 18 times. It is almost unrecognisable from when I first went.”

With the support of STH and other organisations, the hospital has developed from a shell without running water or electricity to one of the best hospitals in the country.

Bio-medical engineers have visited every year since 2008 to assist with developing the hospital services and infrastructure, a library has been established with donated text books, IT systems have been put in place and beds and medical equipment and instruments have been shipped over. Staff from both hospitals have benefitted from visits and training.

Anne intends to continue working with SHARE once she has moved.

“It has been a privilege to have been welcomed so often to Ethiopia and I have made many friends there who I hope to visit again,” she said.

“They and we really appreciate the longevity of the partnership we have had and are keen to keep it going. SHARE is regarded as a prime example of the way the staff of the NHS can support the development of health services and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals is universally praised for its dedication to this long-term international link.”

Some of the Ethiopian health staff SHARE has worked with were small children during the famine in the 1980s and have since graduated from medical and nursing colleges. Anne said: “That gives you a real sense of how far things have come.”

Cariad Evans, a consultant virologist at STH and a SHARE member, is to take over as group chair. She is planning to return to Ethiopia after first visiting ten years ago.

She said: “I can’t wait to see what it is like now and how the vision has come to life. It is a very valuable experience for people on both sides, and you do find that when people return their perspective has changed dramatically. You develop leadership skills and learn how to cope in unfamiliar conditions.”

Any healthcare professionals who would like to get involved with SHARE can contact Cariad by emailing her at cariad.evans@sth.nhs.uk

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