Opening Remarks by Ambassador Haslach at the University of Gondar Hospital Comprehensive Outpatient Center

Your Excellency, Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Your Excellency, Ato Gedu Andargachew President of Amhara Regional State

Your Excellency, Dr.  Tedros Adhanom, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Your Excellency, Dr. Kesetebirhan Admassu, Minister of Health

Your Excellency, Ato Shiferaw Shegutie, Minister of Education

Professor Mengesha Admassu, President of the University of Gondar

University of Gondar Staff, Alumni

Other distinguished colleagues

Good morning! I am delighted to be here with all of you today to inaugurate this newly constructed comprehensive outpatient center and to congratulate the University of Gondar on its 60th anniversary. The Center will provide all-inclusive HIV/AIDS and integrated maternal and child health services to the people of Gondar and the Amhara region. When I visited Gondar earlier this year in January, I promised Professor Mengesha that I would return for the inauguration – congratulations to the construction team for the timely completion of this beautiful building and for its impressive architecture which utilizes local materials and applies Gondar’s rich historic theme throughout the building.

With Amhara Region being the second most populous region in Ethiopia and having the second highest number of people living with HIV, the work of the University of Gondar and the Amhara Regional Health Bureau is making a difference in combatting HIV in the region, and improving health outcomes through increased access to care and treatment for people living with HIV. We know we are within the reach of achieving an AIDS-free generation in Ethiopia and the Amhara region.

The U.S. Government is proud to partner with the University of Gondar in saving more lives and building a sustainable health system. This new comprehensive outpatient center is one example of the partnership. Our relationship with the University of Gondar dates back to the early 1950s with the establishment of the Public Health College through a partnership with the U.S. Government’s Point Four program, the precursor to USAID, and the World Health Organization (WHO).  At that time the focus was on training to respond to severe malaria epidemics in Ethiopia. Today, the University of Gondar is one of the largest public universities in Ethiopia and is a center of excellence for public health research and medical training.

The U.S. partnership with the University of Gondar is multi-faceted and goes beyond government bilateral relations. Our U.S. universities have strong technical and programmatic working relationships that include leadership training as well as staff and student exchanges to promote research and higher education.  The University of Gondar’s partners include, to name a few, the University of Washington, John Hopkins University, Ohio State University, Howard University, Arizona State University, Touro University, University of Illinois, Dominican University of California, and Oregon State University.

We are thrilled that your Dean for the College of Education, Fozya Tesfa, is in the United States right now as one of the Young African Leaders Initiative Washington Fellows.  Fozya, along with the Fellows from across Africa, will meet with President Obama at the Young Africa Leaders’ Summit on July 28.

I also want you to know that Gondar University is always in the hearts of our Ethiopian staff since many of them graduated from the University of Gondar. These Ethiopian alumni from USAID and CDC are here in Gondar this weekend to celebrate the 60th Jubilee with you

The United States is home to one of the largest Ethiopian Communities in the world. These Ethiopians are now returning to their homeland, many to their beloved city of Gondar, to mobilize human, financial and other resources and to help address human resources constraints in the country, especially in the health sector. I would like to thank them for their contributions.

Ethiopia has made enormous progress in addressing its HIV epidemic. To date over 325,000 people are receiving life-saving treatment  in over 900 sites and evidence shows us that Ethiopia is now putting more people on treatment than the number of new infections occurring annually.   Ethiopia has reached what we call  the programmatic “tipping point.” – a great achievement. This would not have come about without our strong partnership with the Government of Ethiopia and local university Partners.

This newly constructed facility is part of the U.S. Government’s commitment to strengthening the national capacity of health facilities to provide comprehensive and integrated HIV/AIDS health care services throughout Ethiopia. From the earliest days of PEPFAR support, we realized that we would not meet our ambitious goals without a significant investment in infrastructure.  And so, through PEPFAR support, more than $60 million has been invested in the construction of eight outpatient facilities, six reference laboratories, and a national public health training center so that together we can serve patients in the highest HIV prevalence areas across the country.

Regarding this facility, the Unites States has provided more than USD $9,000,000 (approximately 183 million ETB) for its construction.  Built on 7,360 square meters of land, the building provides adequate space for the comprehensive HIV care for adult and pediatric patients, including examination rooms for TB and infectious Diseases, Surgical and Pediatrics services along with a casualty unit to support training and care for emergency medical services. The facility also houses rooms for pharmacy, laboratory, CT scan and MRI.

President Mengesha, our commitment to Gondar has never been stronger.  Sixty years ago we worked together to found University of Gondar and today we open this new nine million dollar facility.  I congratulate on your successes and look forward to great achievements in the next sixty years.

Prime Minister Hailemariam, our commitment to the success of Ethiopia is equally strong.  In exactly one month, you will sit down with President Obama at the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit.  I know that we can expect great results from your discussions and look forward to working with you to realize Ethiopia’s aspirations for a prosperous and secure future.

Thank you and happy 60th Anniversary.