The lack of response or even concern for the terrible suffering in Tigray for millions of innocent civilians, mothers, and children by the non-Tigrayan medical establishment in Ethiopia’s capital including at universities, medical schools, and government health organizations is shocking. For many years cordial relationships existed with cross training of medical students and post-graduate resident occurring frequently between Mekelle University’s Ayder Hospital and Addis Ababa’s teaching programs.
TGHAT Tigray News reported today about receiving a letter from a doctor who wished to remain anonymous complaining of the “blatant double standard and hypocrisy the leadership of the medical society has exhibited on issues related to Tigray”. This doctor felt the silence of suffering violated his sacred duty and oath as a physician to society. The head of the Ethiopian Pediatric Society, Professor Bogale Worku, threatened any physician who wanted to discuss help for Tigray during academic meetings.
Even the current Ethiopian Minister of Health, Lia Tadesse, a trained obstetrician gynecologist who spent time in training at Ayder, has acted as if Tigray does not exist any more. During the occupation of Mekelle several phone calls with Lia Tadesse by Ayder leadership were met with the response of “there is nothing I can do”. Subsequently all funding for the University and Ayder Hospital which were federal not Tigray institutions primarily were completely ended. Medical supplies intended for delivery to Ayder were sent to Eritrea. USAID officially complained to Lia Tadesse about her lack of regard for the welfare of the Tigray population and refusal to cooperate with aid to the region.
The fundraising effort, Doctors 4Ethiopia, claims to be raising funds to rehabilitate and restore medical services for “all of Ethiopia”. However in small text they have a disclaimer that they will only help hospitals designated by the Ministry of Health which apparently has decided not fund any Tigray hospital. They are intentionally misleading donors wanting to help Tigray.
In long history of mankind it was not unusual for the healing professions of opposing sides to show mercy to enemy combatants and innocents. Notable exceptions occurred in World War II where some Nazi German doctors used Jewish civilians for immoral experimentation. More recently during the Rwanda genocide of 1994 the Hutu regime punished doctors who treated Tutsi victims. There was at least one doctor, Sosthene Munyemana , who has been called the “Butcher of Tumba” for his atrocities to the Tutsi. The prevailing sentiment in the organized medical establishment of Ethiopia appears to have abandoned their morals and duties in favor of seeking political favoritism.