Ethiopia sees its first ever speech-language pathology graduates


Homegrown speech-language pathologists who will stay and treat Ethiopia's hearing and speech disabled - the fruit of ongoing co-operation between an African and a Canadian university.

January 2019 will bring Ethiopia's first graduating class of eight speech-language pathologists, a major step in healthcare for a poor but economically fast-developing African country now regularly harvesting the benefits of a 15-year-old co-operation agreement between Addis Ababa University (AAU) and the University of Toronto (U of T).

To date, Ethiopia has only one practising but not technically qualified speech pathologist, according to Hillary Ganek, a research fellow at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children who taught an aural rehabilitation course at AAU in May. She instructed her students on working with children with hearing loss, and the group managed to help some young patients over just a few sessions.

“We were able to bring in some families with children and create lesson plans and go through therapy with them,” Ganek enthused.

This training triumph was made possible by the Toronto Addis Ababa Academic Collaboration (TAAAC), a scheme which began with the study of psychiatry in 2003, and now spans 24 disciplines, extending outside medicine to engineering. The University of Toronto has pledged its commitment to the agreement, Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr, having travelled this October to Addis Ababa to reinforce the understanding. The good news for Ethiopia is that the TAAAC has achieved a more than 90% graduate retention rate of students for the country.

All the graduating speech-language pathologists of this crop intend to remain to provide healthcare to the benefit of not only hearing-loss patients, but also stroke victims and sufferers from Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig's disease.

Source: University of Toronto