Baby doc aids colleagues in his native Ethiopia
Woldesenbet, who prefers simply to be called Dr. Mesfin, traveled extensively in his career before arriving in Houston, spending seven years in England immediately after leaving his home country before heading to New York for his residency. After leaving the Big Apple, Mesfin went to Texas for a fellowship before finally settling in as the medical director of the Neonatal ICU at Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital. Mesfin, along with his wife and two children, currently lives in Missouri City.
Mesfin has used his position to do a tremendous amount of good in the United States, but it was a recent trip to his home country that truly opened his eyes to a problem that needs immediate attention.
“I was really shocked by what I saw,” Mesfin said, describing the extremely high infant mortality rate in Ethiopia. “In the U.S., approximately out of 1,000 deliveries, eight are born dead, compared to 27 in Ethiopia.”
Mesfin knew he could not stand idly by when conditions were so abysmal in the nation he knows and loves. To help combat the problem, he founded Horn of Africa Neonatal Development Services, also known as Helping H.A.N.D.S., to collect medical supplies that will be shipped to facilities in Ethiopia.
“The neonatal care (in Ethiopia) is almost nonexistent,” Mesfin said, describing the ICU there as a long table where babies were placed right next to each other. “I live in the richest and most generous nation in the world, and I have to utilize that to the advantage of these people in Ethiopia.”
The first collection drive for Helping H.A.N.D.S. was held Dec. 3, and the organization was able to bring in a substantial amount of equipment that can be put to use in Ethiopia.
Mesfin said every little bit helps, and the shortage of supplies in the country has led to the emergence of doctors who can use their machines in a variety of ways. Ultimately, the problem in Ethiopia is not a lack of talented medical professionals; it is a lack of access to crucial medical technology.
“The doctors, the nurses and the nurses’ assistants, they’re amazingly smart people,” Mesfin said. “They are extremely creative. Whatever equipment you give them, they use that equipment.”
About Mesfin Woldesenbet
Occupation: Medical director of Neonatal ICU at Memorial Hermann
Community Connection: Lives in Missouri City
Fast Fact: Won the Children’s Hospital’s 2006 Physician of the Year award
Chris Marshall is a freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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