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Why Ethiopia

Global Partners-Ethiopia teams deliver medical and surgical care, educational opportunities, encouragement and support for local healthcare providers, students and community members in collaboration with Project Mercy. Project Mercy is an Ethiopian-based NGO and is our new partner in Yetebon. This partnership includes University of Wisconsin-Madison and other organizations.

The United States and Ethiopia have a long history of partnership. Global Partners found a great opportunity to build upon those connections and help improve the quality of life in Ethiopian communities, focusing first on the Yetebon community.

  • Ethiopia faces extreme poverty, with nearly one in every three people live on less than $1.25 a day (World Bank, 2011).
  • Ethiopia faces a vast shortage of healthcare workers, with less than one physician for every 30,000 people, and less than three nurses and midwives for every 10,000 people. (World Health Organization, 2011).
  • The mortality rate for children under age 5 per 1,000 live births is 77, compared to the United States, which is 8 per 1,000 live births. (WHO, 2011).
  • Nearly 78 percent of the families in the Yetebon Region do not have access to clean drinking water. (Project Mercy, 2004).
  • A 2013 UNESCO report found that approximately 57 million children worldwide were not attending school in 2011— 29.8 million of those children were living in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Dental Initiatives

dental Initiatives

Providing dental services to those living in the Yetebon area and increase capacity of Project Mercy staff to educate, clean teeth and triage patients

Watch this Global Impact Talk by Nate Farley, D.D.S., on his experience providing dental care in Ethiopia. 

Why this matters: Between 60-80% of children in the African Region are affected by tooth decay, cavities and have limited access to a dental practitioner.

Project Activities:

  • Performing dental exams, cleanings, extractions, and fillings to patients in need.
  • Donating a dental unit and providing training on oral hygiene to staff at Project Mercy.
  • Delivering toothbrushes and dental hygiene education to Project Mercy students and patients.

Surgery Initiatives

Working alongside Ethiopian surgery staff and nurses at Project Mercy to provide surgical services to those living in the Yetebon area.

Why this matters: In Ethiopia, there is 1 physician for every 30,000 people which results in very limited access to surgical services.

Project Activities:

  • Providing anesthesia care to ensure safety of the patients.
  • Offering training to Ethiopian providers and nurses to improve a patient's perioperative experience.
  • Increasing access to needed resources by donating surgical supplies and equipment.
  • Providing post-operative care via volunteer teams to cover staffing shortages in the hospital.

Obstetrics and Gynecology Initiatives

Building the capacity of Project Mercy staff and nurse midwife students to provide high quality Ob/Gyn care to those living in the Yetebon area.

Why this matters: Ethiopia has one of the world's highest rates of maternal deaths and disabilities in the world.

Project Activities:

  • Providing gynecological surgeries, ultrasounds and exams.
  • Offering ongoing training and education to hospital providers and nursing students.
  • Donating educational materials, medical supplies and equipment to improve resources at the Project Mercy hospital.
  • Donating sustainable "Days for Girls" kits to improve post-partum hygiene.

Vision Initiatives

Identifying students and staff at Project Mercy who might be struggling with their learning or work due to a vision problem or who suffer from trachoma infection.

Why this matters: Trachoma is a major cause of avoidable blindness among vulnerable populations. Global Partners found that 50% of the children at Project Mercy tested positive for trachoma.

Project Activities:

  • Providing vision screenings and referrals for comprehensive eye exams to the children and staff at Project Mercy.
  • Treating all children and staff for trachoma to reduce bacterial transmission and stop the spread of the disease.
  • Exploring future health education initiatives to promote eye health.

Podiatry Initiatives

Providing podiatry services to those living in the Yetebon area and teaching foot care and hygiene to Project Mercy staff and patients.

Nursing Support and Education

Why this matters: Only half of children in rural Ethiopia consistently wear shoes, which is the first level of defense in promoting foot health.

Project Activities:

  • Providing patients with podiatric care and needed surgical procedures.
  • Providing medical education on wound care and trauma to hospital nurses.
  • Offering education to community members on foot health, care and hygiene.
  • Supporting TOMS Shoes distribution by assisting with foot checks and parasite removal for the school children.

Biomedical Initiatives

Ensuring the availability of working equipment at Project Mercy hospital and building capacity in the staff's ability to maintain biomedical equipment.

Why this matters: 40% of medical equipment in developing countries is out of service due to break down, inadequate maintenance, availability of spare parts, and the lack of repair knowledge among clinic or hospital staff.

Project Activities:

  • Repairing broken biomedical equipment at Project Mercy hospital.
  • Training Project Mercy technicians to repair biomedical equipment to increase mechanical skills and knowledge.

Nursing Support and Education

Supporting education for nursing students at the Health Sciences College and providing medical assistance at Project Mercy hospital.

Nursing Support and Education

Why this matters: Ethiopian nurses have a heavy workload and often work in short-staffed environments, which can negatively impact the quality of care patients receive.

Project Activities:

  • Supporting the Health Sciences College in training nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists through textbook donations and other resources.
  • Teaching hospital staff to use alternative pain management methods, like essential oils.
  • Providing intra operative support through surgical procedures.
  • Providing pre and post-operative care to patients recovering from surgery.

Interested in learning more about the Ethiopia partnerships or volunteering? Check out dates and get more information.

Or contact Global Partners office at (608) 775-9883 or

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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