More Links in News & Events

Profile: Dr. Joyce Murray

New Director a Quick Study in Ethiopian Health Needs
Excerpt from The Carter Center News, January – June 2003 edition. Article written December 2002.

Eight years ago, the Carter Center's newest program director, Joyce Murray, had never been in a developing country. As a professor at Atlanta's Emory University, however, she became an adviser to three Ethiopian nursing students. She recalls cautioning them, "What I'm telling you may not apply to the circumstances in your country."

Three years later, she would learn just how wise that cautionary note was. She traveled to Ethiopia on a grant to help improve nursing programs there. Her exposure to a very different medical environment continued with her involvement during the past three years with the Center's Ethiopia Public Health Initiative she now directs. Although she and other international experts assist in shaping the initiative's curriculum, they rely on local faculty teams to determine which health problems need to be addressed in that country. The top concerns vary greatly from those in the United States: infant diarrhea, malnutrition, malaria, and HIV/AIDS are all potential killers.

The initiative's mission is to develop health material for use in training staff for 500 facilities established to bring health care to rural Ethiopians - 85 percent of the population.

War with Eritrea disrupted the program at one point, but the ongoing challenges are more basic. Although the program's students can be taught in English, they must provide health education in a country in which 87 languages are spoken; and poor roads make it time-consuming to take students into villages for hands-on training.

"One of the unanticipated outcomes of this initiative," Dr. Murray says, "is the stronger relationship built among the scattered college faculties and government health ministry. In our workshops, they develop a common focus on their country's most critical health needs. More important, our program's graduates report that the work they're doing is making a real difference in the quality of health care people now receive.

"We will be evaluating the program's impact in more detail," she continues, "but we already know two areas that need more attention: mental health, particularly in families who've lost parents or husbands to HIV/AIDS; and a CD-ROM-based means of continuing the education of graduating students, so they can become more effective teachers and keep up with new training materials being developed."

Three Ethiopians who Dr. Murray will be counting on to play a role in bringing improved health care to their country include two college faculty members and an official with the nation's ministry of health. They are the nursing students she advised almost a decade ago at Emory.

Photos: The Carter Center/Laura Lester
Dr. Murray (above left) speaks with Ato Alemayehu Galmessa (center), a psychiatric nurse who is an instructor from Alemaya University, and Ato Belete Shiferaw (right), a nursing instructor from Dilla College, during a field visit to a rural health clinic.

Dr. Murray, nursing students, and other health professionals visit a health center near Dilla, Ethiopia.

Donate Now

Sign Up For Email

Please sign up below for important news about the work of The Carter Center and special event invitations.

Please leave this field empty
Now, we invite you to Get Involved
Back To Top