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Amsale Gessesse Memorial Foundation Newsletter

Vol. I No. 2 August 2009
In This Issue
The Gift of Life
AGMF Awards for Reseach
Dog Clinic and Pilot Program Up and Running
Suzie Q Comes To America
The donations of our supporters, such as yourself, are in large part responsible for the good works of the Foundation detailed in these newsletters. Your kind generosity is saving lives. Thank you!

To make a donation to the Amsale Gessesse Memorial Foundation, please go to our web site at and click on "Donation".
Look for important information about significant changes in the Amsale Gessesse Memorial Foundation in the next newsletter.
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On September 2, 2009, Dr. Anteneh Roba will be hosting the Vegan World radio show on KPFT 90.1 FM at 10.00 p.m. His guest will be Dr. Baxter Montgomery, a local Houston cardiologist. The topic of discussion will be the "Positive Health Benefits of Eating a Vegetarian Diet".

Dr. Roba will also give a talk in Accra, Ghana at the West African Vegetarian World Congress on October 30, 2009. The topic of his talk will be "The Deleterious Effects of Meat Eating on Health and the Environment".
The AGMF newsletters is the official publication of the Amsale Gessesse Memorial Foundation and is published periodically to inform supporters and the public of the foundation's work and progress.


Meaza big
On his trip to Yekatit 12 Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in March of this year, Dr. Anteneh Roba, founding President of the Amsale Gessesse Memorial Foundation, met Maza, a beautiful new-born baby girl, when she was just 14 hours old. She was beautiful but in critical condition due to hemorrhagic disease of the newborn which caused internal bleeding and external bleeding literally from every orifice, she also suffered from prenatal asphyxia and later developed sepsis.

Meaza 1

These conditions were responsible for a number of serious complications including anemia, intracranial bleeding, renal failure, and eventually multiple organ failure which killed her. The medical staff transfused blood through her umbilical cord which caused her already critical cardio-pulmonary status to deteriorate further sending her into cardiac arrest. Each time CPR saved her little life. But, finally, after 22 days, she died. Had she been in a neonatal intensive unit with appropriate equipment, including ventilator and dialysis machines she might have survived.
iqubatorDuring the March visit, Foundation staff brought additional supplies and equipment to Yekatit 12 Hospital including a lap top computer and LCD monitor, a printer/fax/scanner, complete outfits for 8 nurses including caps, goggles, name tags, jackets, scrubs, shoes, watches, and stethoscopes and over 250 clothing items for the new born babies. Unfortunately, respirators were not included at this time. Thus there was no way to support baby Maza's respiration.
nursesOn his recent trip to the hospital in early June, however, the Foundation was able to deliver the final installment of equipment and supplies necessary to create a Neonatal ICU, including three Pediatric/Neonatal ventilators donated by the New York Mt.Sinai Medical School Department of Neonatology through the good offices of Dr. Ian R. Holzman, Professior of Pediatric Medicine and Chief of the Division of Newborn Medicine, three Cardio-Pulmonary monitors, and I-Stat machine for blood analysis, a portable X-ray Machine with fluoroscope capabilities, three humidifiers, three condensers, three sets of otoscopes and opthalmoscopes, a defibrillator, and a large supply of accessory equipment necessary for respiratory care. This most recent gift of the foundation completed the basic essential equipment needed for the ICU. This is now the first and only neonatal ICU in the country as far as is known, and hopefully it will make a huge difference in the survival rate of new infants with serious diseases and birth-related problems.
TedrosThis equipment was presented to Yekatit 12 Hospital at a special ceremony broadcast nationwide by Ethiopian TV and Radio on June 9th. The ceremony was attended by His Excellency, Dr. Teodros Adhanom, Minister of Health of Ethiopia and His Excellency, Dr. Hassan Mohammed, Head of the Addis Ababa Health Bureau. The Minister toured the facility and later on gave a speech and presented a certificate of merit to The Amsale Gessesse Memorial Foundation for its efforts in establishing the new Neonatal ICU Unit. Dr Mulualem, head of the Neonatology Unit at Yekatit 12 Hospital, gave a presentation on the status and progress of the unit since its inception 3 years ago. She reported that neonatal mortality has declined by almost 50% in the past three years, since the positive intervention of the foundation. Please keep in mind these results do not take into account the babies that died of critical conditions that require the ICU monitoring and treatment that was not available until this June.

Ambassdor at YekatitiFollowing the installation of the new equipment and the official opening of the Neonatal ICU, His Excellency, Mr. Donald Yamamato, the American Ambassador to Ethiopia, visited the new unit on June 10 2009. He was briefed by Dr. Roba and Dr. Mulualem and left very impressed. He offered that he would do his best to help us. The unit was also visited by representatives of the Bill Gates Foundation and the Clinton Foundation.
Medical School Award 2009
For the second year in a row the Amsale Gessesse Memorial Foundation has awarded two Ethiopian doctors $1,000 USD each for medical research. The Doctors were chosen by (EMA) Ethiopian Medical Association and the award ceremony was held at the annual EMA conference in Addis Ababa in early June




While in Ethiopia in early June, Foundation staff visited the Kirikos Kebele Animal Clinic in Addis Ababa where homeless dogs are being captured then spayed/ neutered and vaccinated at a newly constructed facility of the city government. The program started on March 16 th of 2009 is a collaborative effort by The Amsale Gessesse Memorial Foundation, Best Friends Animal Society, Humane Society International, a division of HSUS, and the Addis Ababa city government. The goal of this pilot program is to spay/neuter and vaccinate 1,200 dogs in the Kirikos sub-city in Addis Ababa in a nine-month period.

trnThe Ethiopian staff of 6 veterinarians and 4 dog catchers received special training by a team of vets and dog catchers from the USA and India at the inception of the program in early March. The Ethiopian Veterinary School of Medicine does not have a curriculum that deals with small animals which would include dogs and cats and so the training in small animal medicine is basically non existent. As a result, the Ethiopian Vets and dog catchers are spaying/neutering and vaccinating 5 to 6 dogs a day and hopefully will achieve the goal of 1,200 dogs by November 2009. At that time, hopefully the project will be extended to include other parts of Addis Ababa and eventually the whole city.


In conjunction with the opening of the Kirikos Kebele Animal Clinic a 4-hour seminar was held on March 13th at the Ghion Hotel in Addis Ababa to introduce the TNR (Trap, Neuter, and Release) and Vaccination Program and explain that it is the accepted standard method of dealing with dog and cat overpopulation in most of the developing and developed countries of the world. It was attended by 60 city officials, Veterinarians, assistant Veterinarians, health, sanitation, and agriculture officials. His Excellency Mr. Fistum Aregaye, head of the Trade & Industry Development Council of Addis Ababa chaired the seminar. Mr. Rahul Seagul from HSI (a division of Humane Society of the United States) presented a broad overview of TNR and Dr. Michael Dix from Best Friends explained the surgical technique.


During the June visit to the Kirikos Kebele Animal Clinic, Foundation staff met with Mr. Fitsum Aregaye, head of the Trade and Industry Development Bureau, who is the lead city official running the program. Mr. Fitsum Aregaye told members of the Foundation coalition that the city has already budgeted money for the continuance of the program after the pilot program is finished and that they plan to build nine additional clinics to cover the entire city of Addis Ababa - two of which are already nearing completion. Although they would still like some assistance from International Organizations, they are willing to take on the majority of the responsibility of expanding and running the spay/neuter and vaccination program. Part of the money will come from a sliding scale fee arrangement that will allow residents to bring in their dogs to be spayed/neutered and treated, regardless of their ability to pay.

Amsale Gessesse Memorial Foundation and the city government have further agreed to mutually create informative brochures to instruct citizens on how to take good care of their dogs -- how not to chain them, proper nutrition and exercise, and regular medical check ups vaccinations etc... .

The Foundation held talks on June 4th with Dr Takele Abayeneh, Assistant Dean of The Veterinary School of Medicine, and Dr. Tefera Yilma, Clinical Department Head, to remedy the lack of training in small animal care. As a result, the foundation will actively solicit Veterinary doctors from US Universities to travel to Ethiopia for 2 to 3-week periods to lecture and teach surgical and medical procedures for the care and treatment of small animals at the Veterinary School. The school will shortly be signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Foundation.

TRN surgery perform by the studentsWhen the Best Friends and Humane Society International teams were doing the spay/neuter training at the clinic, among the most enthusiastic participants were a few of the vet students at the University. Although the program, as it was set up, stipulated that only veterinarian doctors, not veterinarian students, were to be trained, one of the students, Milkesse, sometimes with a few of his friends, showed up nearly every day anyway--just to watch!

These enterprising students have started the Club for Animal Welfare (CAW). Now an official student club of the Veterinary School, it will be sponsored by the Amsale Gessesse Memorial Foundation. A grant has already been given for some educational materials. The vet students will be doing programs in schools around the suburbs of Addis. They are also quite keen to set up projects in rural areas teaching people who have working animals, especially donkeys, how to care for their animals--by providing water and by not giving them too heavy a load to carry. Dr. Getachew Terefe, Dean of Students, will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the foundation on behalf of the Club for Animal Welfare.

By Anteneh Roba, M.D.
President, Amsale Gessesse Memorial Foundation

Suzie Q, a homeless dog who sought refuge at the new clinic site in Addis Ababa, came into my life when I went there in March 2009, as part of the coalition team (Amsale Gessesse Memorial Foundation, Humane Society International, and Best Friends) to initiate the new Trap Neuter Release program. It was love at first sight. Her innocence, lack of fear of strange people (very unusual for homeless dogs in Ethiopia), and her puppy like clumsiness endeared her to the coalition. The Best Friends team named her Suzie Q. Although she was an official resident of the clinic, her existence was precarious. At times she would go without food for three days, most of the time she was by herself and always at risk of being thrown out of her new domicile. Before going back to the US, I decided to make sure she would be secure and safe and would get hot meals at least twice a day. I took her to my aunt's house where she stayed for three months until I could arrange for her to come to the US to be adopted by an American family. Thanks to Best friends, we found her a home in May, and I decided to bring her back to the US with me in June. Unfortunately once in the US, we found out that the kind lady who was to be her new mom could not take her. What eventually became apparent is that, during the few weeks Suzie stayed with me, she had already found her forever home.

When my dear Suzie Q first arrived in the states she was shell shocked. She would not eat or drink. I was so worried I thought she would have to be taken to the Animal Hospital. She was also very scared, she was afraid of her own shadow. If you raised your voice just a little she would drop to the floor and start moving away slowly and would start to urinate. Every time she was taken outside to the yard, she would wedge her nose at the door opening trying to open the door to get in. She was afraid of being outside and terrified of passing cars. When the door was opened, she would fly into her room. Once inside her room, she was ready to play; an inch outside of her room, she was terrified to move. She seemed afraid that she would be left outside. After the first week, I tried taking her up stairs to my bedroom, but the poor girl did not have any idea how to climb stairs. I had to carry her up, and, once up, she did not know how to come down. She would sit at the top of the stairs and cry and whine. When I tried to pick her up, she would urinate. The second week when I took her up to my room, my other two dogs were on the bed. She did not know how to get on the bed, and, once I put her on the bed, she did not know what to do and stood there confused. I finally got her down and went to get them treats. When I gave her and the other two treats, she just stood there looking confused. Before I was able to pick up her treat, my other dog had snatched it.

After much patience and care, a month later Miss Suzie can fly up and down the stairs, has bonded with my other dog, Lucky, and they play constantly to the point of exhaustion. They get on the bed and play enthusiastically to the point that I have to yell at them to get down. Any time I reach into the food cabinet, she sits like my other dogs waiting for her treat which she consumes within seconds. She is still afraid of being outside but at least she walks around for a few minutes before she flies back to the door. When it is time to eat she loves her food so much she starts jumping like a wild bronco. The other day the man who takes care of my house came to talk to me. When he entered my office, Suzie was next to me and started half heartedly barking at him. It was so cute. It was her way of saying, "Look bud this is my house and you are trespassing."

This little dog has seen a lot of suffering in her short life as one of the thousands of stray animals in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Seeing her come out of her shell and happy is a feeling I cannot describe. It is one of the most rewarding feelings I have ever felt.