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Back to the Source: Emergency Care

By Emily Ziethen | Wed Apr 05 2017
Members of the IAN closed an investment in East Africa Emergency Services, Ltd (EAES) in May 2015. EAES serves providers of emergency medical services and training in East Africa, Ethiopia in particular, in order to ensure that international and domestic clients have access to reliable, high-quality emergency care. EAES works in partnership with local firms, such as Tebita Ambulance and Pre-Hospital Emergency Care (Tebita), by offering business development, procurement, and administrative support. This support drives medical service companies to operate more efficiently and thus, frees them up to focus on their core functions; providing quality medical care for patients in crisis.
EAES and Tebita, together, aim to improve the quality of and access to emergency healthcare services across Ethiopia and beyond. Kibret Abebe founded Tebita in 2008 as the first private sector ambulance and emergency medical services company in Ethiopia. Kibret is a licensed nurse anesthetist with more than 25 years’ experience. Tebita provides 24-hour ambulance service in Addis Ababa, remote medical assistance to multinational companies (MNCs) operating in Ethiopia, and ground evacuation services throughout the country. Tebita also offers safety and life support trainings for healthcare and non-healthcare professionals in partnership with Weber State University.
Kibret, who previously worked as a nurse anesthetist at a major Addis Ababa hospital, founded Tebita after witnessing the poor conditions of traffic accident victims and other emergency medical patients when they arrived at hospitals. In Ethiopia, very few patients are transported to hospitals via ambulance, while the majority travel by public transportation, taxis, or by walking. In fact, one study of the Tikur Anbessa Specialized Hospital found that during 2012 to 2013, 78.1% of the 9,956 patients that came into the emergency department arrived by means other than emergency transport.(1) In fact, in these instances, minimal to no emergency or pre-hospital treatment was provided to the victims either at the scene or during transit.
Road traffic incidents pose enormous challenges across the world. “Globally 1.3 million fatal and up to 50 million non-fatal injuries are reported… it is the second most common cause of death among the most economically active population group (15–44 year-old).”(2) According the World Health Organization (WHO), Ethiopia is considered one of the worst countries in the world where road transportation kills and injures a large number of road users every year.(2)
From June 2012 to May 2013, one WHO report, in particular, took a closer look at a major highway connecting two of the country’s largest cities: Addis Ababa and Hawassa. The report found that an estimated 224 deaths and 1,046 injuries/billion vehicle kilometers occurred on this one road alone over the course of a year.(2) And the key word here is “estimated” because vehicular related deaths and accidents are grossly underreported in Ethiopia and other developing countries. Again, from 2012 to 2013, the WHO records a total of 3,362 traffic fatalities for the country of Ethiopia, but estimates that real figure to have actually been anywhere from 18,528 to 29,146 deaths.(3) And with a population of more than 90 million people that is increasingly urbanizing and becoming more motorized, this number will likely continue to rise.
It is Kibret’s belief that many of these victims could have been saved if given proper emergency, pre-hospital care by trained health professionals. This critical need to improve patient transportation and pre-hospital care spurred Kibret to take action. After traveling to England to experience a professional ambulance and pre-hospital care system, Kibret returned to Ethiopia with the vision to establish Tebita. He proposed a concept to the Ministry of Health and helped craft the government regulatory standards for the industry. Shortly after, he received the first ambulance license and established Tebita. Because banks were not willing to offer loans for an ambulance service provider, Kibret sold his house, bought three ambulances and began operating in 2008.
To date, Tebita has provided ambulance services to more than 40,000 clients and emergency training to more than 25,000 trainees. They remain the only licensed, private, for-profit company providing pre-hospital, emergency care in Ethiopia. Tebita has grown its fleet to eleven ambulances and employs 57 full time staff members. “Tebita” is Amharic for “drop,” a message to force every citizen to think about his or her drop of contribution to humanity. Recently, the Ethiopian government named Kibret as an Ambassador of Health and Social Service and honored the company with the “Extraordinary Award For Dedication and Exceptional Contribution On Health And Social Service in Ethiopia”.
But, Kibret is nowhere close to calling it quits. Together with EAES, Kibret has a vision to grow Tebita into the premier first response provider and training company in Ethiopia. He also envisions building a home-based healthcare practice and, eventually, developing an air ambulance evacuation service. The sky is truly the limit when you have such a dedicated and passionate entrepreneur behind the wheel.
RENEW is proud to be a part of EAES and Tebita’s story of saving lives.
Renew Capital is an Africa-focused impact investment firm that backs innovative companies with high-growth potential. Renew Capital manages investments made on behalf of the Renew Capital Angels, a global network of angel investors, foundations and family offices who seek financial returns and sustainable social impact. For the latest on investing in Africa, subscribe and follow us at our social links below.

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