Mekonnen Aytenfisu, 34, has been serving as the Head of the Debrebirhan Kebele 04 Heath Centre in Ethiopia for about two years.
He is one of the health care providers who took part in training on gender-based violence in Shewarobit (Amhara region) organized by Amref Health Africa, with financial support from the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada. Through the specialized training, Mekonnen and his fellow health workers and health service administrators were equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to respond to gender-based violence and to provide care and support for survivors.
“I am very happy to be part of this training, which was really enlightening for all of us. It provided us with the knowledge and skills on how we could provide services to individuals who undergo physical and sexual assaults and violence. This is something we give no attention to as we tend to consider it common practice in our society. We only focus on treating the problem and providing medical treatment but now after the training it becomes clear to all of us that this is something we can prevent before it happens to anyone by creating awareness of it in our community,” Mekonnen said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, a rise in gender-based violence against women and children has been reported. Increasing awareness of this unintended impact of COVID-19 through health care providers is among the key interventions of Amref Health Africa. Through this initiative, more than 100 health workers and health administrators were trained to better respond to gender-based violence through improved quality medical and psychosocial services. The health workers trained vowed to immediately start creating awareness and do whatever it takes to prevent gender-based violence and to support survivors.
“Thanks to the training and all the supports provided to us by the Government of Canada and Amref Health Africa, we have now started to create awareness and even search for if there are any victims in our community so we could provide them with the necessary support,” Mekonnen noted.
The Debrebirhan Kebele 04 Health Centre is currently assigning one separate room to treat gender-based violence survivors and to provide counselling services. Mekonnen aspires to ensure the health centre has a plan in place to reduce gender-based violence and improve the response.