This episode we welcome the man who wears many hats; Dr. Abebe Bekele, founding Dean of the School of Medicine and Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Global Health and Equity (UGHE) in Rwanda. Dr. Bekele is a renowned thoracic Surgeon and a Professor of Surgery at Addis Ababa University, School of Medicine in Ethiopia. He is a fellow of the College of Surgeons of East, Central, and Southern Africa (COSECSA), the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the University of Washington, as well as the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER). He has published innumerable journals, reports, and book chapters and has received international awards and recognition for his monumental contributions to the improvement of surgical care in SSA and worldwide. With Dr. Bekele, the term “many hats” is an overwhelming understatement, as his titles and accomplishments are far too vast to enumerate without composing a comprehensive memoir.
In addition to his clinical and academic ventures, he has taken on a prominent role as a global surgery advocate while demonstrating his infinite passion for health equity in all of its representations through his work and activism. He is the epitome of a global surgery and surgical education champion, and his proactivity in the promotion of gender equity, sustainable partnerships, and the decolonization of global health shine brightly in this field. This episode sees Dr. Bekele share his experiences and wisdom, beginning with a detailed description of his career path, ambitions, and moving through to his establishment of the School of Medicine at the UGHE. He details the pragmatic solutions that UGHE has adopted in order to tackle issues in gender equity as well as provide training on social justice, human rights, and social determinants of health to their medical students. If one thing is emphasized above all in this episode, it is the importance of establishing resilient and multifarious training programs for medical professionals. He accentuates that clinical training must be centered around district hospitals in order to create well-rounded acute care surgeons. Students may then attend larger urban referral centers for specialized procedures to top off their skillsets once they have mastered treating the most common pathologies that they will encounter first. Dr. Bekele proclaims the importance of the altruistic humanitarian aid that is being offered to address barriers to care in Africa, but emphasizes that this help must come in the form of an equitable and sustainable partnership in order for it to succeed. To facilitate this, the UGHE has designed a model – The Seven Steps of Sustainable Partnerships.