Epilogue to Dr LEE Jong-wook Fellowship Program
With the knowledge acquired from the program, I hope to contribute to improving healthcare quality in my home country
Interview with Liya Sisay Getachew, a fellow from Dr LEE Jong-wook Fellowship Program
For Liya Sisay Getachew, Dr LEE Jong-wook Fellowship Program has become an unforgettable memory. Through the program, she was able to experience Korea's world-renowned advanced medical procedures and facilities. Effectively organized content of the program also offered great satisfaction to the fellows. Through the interview, she shared her experiences in the program and her future plans.

- Article: Newsroom / Photography: KOFIH
Could you introduce yourself?

I’m Liya Sisay Getachew, a 26-year-old doctor from Ethiopia. I currently work as a researcher at Armauer Hansen Research Institute, and a research doctor conducting various clinical trials in the clinical trial team. Aside from my work, I also work as a volunteer at ALERT, a public hospital located nearby my workplace.

Please tell us your experience before joining the program.

I worked as a doctor for two years. I served medical internship at Tikur Anbessa Specialized Hospital, one of the largest university hospitals in Ethiopia. I treated about 30 to 35 patients every day and many of them were contracted with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV at diverse stages or different endemic diseases. After that, I joined Armauer Hansen Research Institute which was established with an emphasis on mycobacterium leprae research that causes leprosy. Now this institute has become a leading research institute that conducts research on a wide variety of diseases.

Let me ask you about the specific goals you wish to achieve through this training course.

As a doctor from a country with insufficient resources, I expect this training program will greatly affect my view on clinical trials and infectious diseases. I think I can redefine my role as a clinical doctor and a researcher, and improve my capacity by learning scientific theories and practices from experts in Korea, a country with world-renowned reputation in terms of infectious disease control, not to mention medical care. Last but not least, I would like to learn how to apply the knowledge and skills I obtained from this program to my home country.

What was the most memorable part of Dr LEE Jong-wook Fellowship Program?

The overall operation of the program was amazing. As it was systematically organized, the fellows were able to adopt to and participate in the program in the most efficient manner. Lectures also provided content that is essentially needed for the changes we wish to realize in our home countries. Great professors who are willing to answer our questions based on their abundant knowledge are also important elements that improve the overall quality of the program. Touring Korean hospitals was also impressive as I was able to realize the gap in medial care between Korea and low- and middle-income countries including Ethiopia. In addition, the coordinators were also impressive. They helped us to smoothly adapt to Korea and the program.

Please tell us impressive experiences you had while staying in Korea.

There are so many, but to tell you a few things, I want to say public transportation. It is very well organized and convenient to use. It enables to move to various places in a short time without difficulties. And I think it is consistent with general characteristics of Koreans and their fast work process. Plus, though I already knew Koreans' love for coffee, I never imagined that I could find a cafe every 100 meters on the street. And I was surprised when I found a coffee cup labeled as "Ethiopian Yirgacheffe" at a convenience store.

What is the most urgent task concerning healthcare in your home country? And how do you plan to contribute to it?

There are many aspects to be improved and addressed in Ethiopia. Among them are healthcare quality and the slow response to health issues caused by insufficient collaboration between different sectors. This became evident during the pandemic. Due to the lack of communication between government authorities, resources were not smoothly allocated and delay in financing lowered effectiveness of the efforts they made. Through this program, I think I have acquired skills and experiences that I can utilize in my field in the long run. So I hope to fully demonstrate this capacity in the field that needs my capability in the future.