The Etiopian Witten Project in Ethiopia

It is the intention of the Ethiopian government to expand and fundamentally modernize the country’s health system. Our involvement in Ethiopia is the result of this government-led initiative. Since 2008, hundreds of health centers have been created and staffed with newly trained medical professionals as part of the Health Sector Development Program (HSDP). As a small organization with limited human resources, we see our opportunities in the creation of model projects.

Short-term, our work will focus on the following areas:

1. Technology

  • Setting up central workshops for the repair and maintenance of medical equipment and
  • Training technical staff
  • Providing technical staff for clinics.
  • This project is planned for the Mekele region.

2. Organization

  • Linking private clinics, both physically and functionally, to hospitals
  • This model was launched at the Bishoftu Hospital in Debre Zeyt

3. Cooperation

  • Supporting doctors’ work by providing medical ‘contract workers’
  • Establishing sponsorships of Ethiopian hospital departments by German hospital departments specializing in the same fields

4. Aid

  • Collecting and providing the most basic medical and other needed equipment
  • Selecting institutions locally in Ethiopia as recipients of aid
  • Transport and safe installation of donated equipment in situ

5. Liaising with the Ethiopian government

  • Mutual consultation to improve efficiency
  • Obtaining permits for planned models outside the current legal possibilities
  • Balancing of federal and regional interests

This approach was taken from the very beginning. Without the contacts in highest-ranking government circles, established through working with influential locals, we would not have been able to achieve so much in a relatively short period of time.

Outside the health sector, we focus on

  • Building on the friendship between the cities of Witten and Mekelle
  • Cooperating in the educational sector
  • Cooperating in the administrative field
  • Cooperating in technical matters

Valuable preparation was achieved by the research provided by interns on the ground. This is work in progress. The large number of non-medical professionals working for Etiopia Witten demands an expansion of this area of our activities.


This has been going on successfully since 2009. A total of nine container loads of aid has been delivered to date.

Ongoing activities of our association in Ethiopia 2009

Since 2009 Etiopia Witten has been participating in projects with hospitals in Bishoftu / Debre Zeyt, Addis Abeba and Mekelle / Tigray.

Our focus of work is currently in Mekelle, Tigray. An important reason for that is the competence and cooperation of the University of Mekelle and its president Prof. Joachim Herzig.
Our field of expertise is medicine and medical-engineering. The coordinators of these ongoing projects are Dr. Zerihun Abebe, dean of the medical faculty, in Africa and on the German side, Ahmedin Idris. Furthermore, several people in Ethiopia, as well as in Germany, are tirelessly participating in initiating our projects, maintaining and further improving them.

Ongoing activities of our association in Ethiopia 2011 to 2013

Projects 2011/12/13:

  1. We sponsored and supplied a CAT scanner, which had been put into operation at Ayder Hospital. MRA Beatrice Grunau will spend another year there in order to ensure further operating and to train colleagues. She will be supported by doctors from Witten.
  2. In the past we often experienced that in Ethiopia even little damages on medical devices were not fixed, therefore, the instruments could not be used any more. Thanks to the help of the staff of FH for Medical Engineering in Burgsteinfurt and engineer D. Grosse-Wentrup, a repair shop for medical equipment was established in the teaching hospital. The shop is unique in Ethiopia: Damaged equipment can be fixed and, additionally, experts for Ethiopia can be trained. Large medical devices were and still are being repaired in Tigray in context of our autoclave-project (in cooperation with Ayder Referral University Hospital, Senior Expert Service and the FH Münster).
  3. In order to interest young people in that important field, Prof. Hölscher had arranged a workshop for medical engineering with student engineers at the University of Mekelle.
  4. Additionally, after a detailed analysis of the situation, Prof. Hölscher developed a recommendation for medical engineering in Ethiopia in cooperation with Dr. v.d. Hagen. This recommendation is aimed at the health ministry, institutions that consider the supply and management of medical devices, and health institutions that use medical devices. Other NGOs that sponsor medical devices could also be interested.
    We consider further development of medical engineering and training of educated staff in Ethiopia just as important as the facilities of medical establishments and hospitals with modern medical-technical devices. Advanced training of staff on-site and on the devices is an important component of the supply/donation of these devices.
  5. Currently the Ayder Referral University Hospital is our most important cooperation partner in Ethiopia. The relatively big Hospital consists of the following departments: cardiology, surgery, paediatrics, gynaecology and midwifery, but also dermatology, ENT, anaesthetics, radiology and dentistry. The house holds 417 beds and reports an increasing number of patients. Due to the lack of an efficient organisation, the Hospital cannot yet be run efficiently and economically. Theo Püplichhuisen, former chief of organisation in the Marienhospital Witten, has analysed the situation and trained an employee of the Hospital. This employee, Mr. Mengistu, will soon come to Witten in order to deepen his knowledge.
  6. The situation of hygiene management and HIV-management of Ayder Hospital has been analysed by Judith Cronenberg. She has developed a recommendation for experts on-site. The improvement of the hygiene standards is a necessary requirement for further projects, such as the development and upgrading of dialysis and bronchoscopy.
  7. Doctors of Etiopia were able to medically help and assist colleagues of Ayder Hospital, as well as other Ethiopian hospitals. Primarily, there was great demand for a qualified handling of medical-technical equipment. For details: Link
  8. Apart from the health sector, the association is also active in other fields: A cooperation in the field of business studies / economics was set up in the University of Mekelle. First reports were worked out and contacts with the education office were made.


Mayor of Bishoftu
Mayor of Bishoftu
Delivery ward at the Gandhi Hospital in Addis
Delivery ward at the Gandhi Hospital in Addis
Injured boy in Axum
Injured boy in Axum
Health Center in Dukem
Health Center in Dukem
Waiting outside the lab
Waiting outside the lab