The first round of training was started on April 30, 2018 with over 120 hospital staff and 4 trainers from AAU department of Afaan Oromo language, literature and folklore.
St. Paul’s hospital millennium medical college provides a wide variety of service to the population. In a baseline assessment conducted by the project team on about 1500 clients/patients and 500 hospital staff, close to half of the clients, which is 44%, are from Oromia region, excluding Addis Ababa. One third of clients only speak Afaan Oromo, and another one third speak both Afaan Oromo and Amharic although the significant majority use Afaan Oromo as their primary language. In the same assessment it was found that 83% of the hospital staff and 91% of clients believe that the hospital needs to give Medical Afaan Oromo training to its staff members.
The idea of language training for health professional was first forwarded by Dr. Brian Mason from St. John hospital and medical center after observing a significant number of Afaan Oromo language speaking clients at the hospital. Dr. Feiruz Surur (then OBGYN department head) and the OBGYN department as a whole contributed to the realization of the project by pushing the agenda to the hospital/college administration. Later, Dr. Thomas Mekuria, OBGYN specialist at SPHMMC and the project manager, materialized the initiative by submitting a project proposal that was well received by the hospital administration. A steering committee was then established by the college administration and the implementation of the project was ensued.
The main aim of the project is to train health care providers at the facility in the basic of Afaan Oromo language in a manner and dialect that is spoken and understood by most of the native Afaan Oromo language speakers. Dr. Thomas Mekuria said “This will greatly aid health care providers when encountering clients who are sole speakers of the Afaan Oromo language which is quite common at our hospital as indicated by the baseline assessment”.
The training is 3 months in duration, for 3 credit hours per week. A training module was prepared jointly by SPHMMC and AAU department of Afaan Oromo language, literature and folklore. The training has two parts, a basic Afaan Oromo communication lasting for 2 months and one that is tailored to take pertinent information from clients by health care providers lasting for the remaining of the training program. This kind of training has a great potential to improve the quality of service by breaking the language barrier between clients and service providers leading to better communication.