Footsteps to Healing: What We Do

A provider team cares for a patient in a clinic in Ethiopia

Founded in 2010, OHSU Footsteps to Healing Global Women's Health Initiative has provided over 250 pelvic organ prolapse surgeries for women in rural Ethiopia.

Founder of Footsteps to Healing, Dr. Rahel Nardos, joined the board of directors for the Worldwide Fistula Fund (WFF) in 2014. WFF is a nonprofit global organization dedicated to the treatment and prevention of obstetric fistulas. WFF helps girls and women to heal, recover, and rebuild their lives, while working to improve the safety of childbirth.

WFF launched the Mekelle Medical Education collaboration (MMEC) at Mekelle University in Ethiopia in 2013, in response to a shortage of expertly trained Ob-Gyns. In 2014, WFF founder Lewis Wall developed key collaborations with partners like OHSU to enhance Mekelle's existing obstetrics and gynecology residency program, help conduct research, and establish Ethiopia's first fellowship training program in urogynecology. 

The MMEC is now a collaborative partnership between Mekelle University, Worldwide Fistula Fund, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, St. Paul's Millennium Medical School in Addis Ababa, and OHSU. Our collective vision is to build one of the strongest educational, clinical, and research institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our team now not only provides surgical care for patients but also formal clinical and surgical training to Ethiopia's first urogynecology fellows. These fellows acquire the skills to provide ongoing care through continued mentorship.

Footsteps to Healing also facilitates opportunities for residents and faculty from Mekelle University to come to OHSU for research and clinical observations. Similarly, numerous OHSU residents, students and fellows participate in global health through this program. In 2015, the program secured funding for one of the first classes of oncology residents from Ethiopia to spend a year conducting research on cervical cancer and radiation therapy. This research and clinical observation opportunity has enormous impact given that there are only four trained oncologists in Ethiopia to serve approximately 90 million people.

Over the next five years we hope to support our partner's vision of building a center of clinical and academic excellence in women's health.

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Our partners

Please visit the webpages of our partners below: