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Innovation in the Healthcare Industry, One Ambulance Ride at a Time

By Lulit Negash | Sat Dec 26 2015
To continue our Q&A series with the employees of RENEW’s portfolio companies, I recently had the pleasure to speak with one of the emergency medical nurses from Tebita Ambulance and Pre-Hospital Emergency Medical Service PLC (TEBITA), a partner of East Africa Emergency Services, LTD (EAES).
Haile Aseged, born in Northern Shoa, has lived in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa since he was 6 years old. Haile sat down with me to talk about how TEBITA and EAES are transforming Ethiopia’s healthcare industry.
As a child, what was your dream career?

As a child, I dreamed of being a doctor. I was good at my studies and have always wanted to work in the medical industry. I had good grades when I was a student. But, by the time I finished high school, I was not assigned by the government to study medicine due to the super competitive environment of being assigned to a medical college. So, after graduating high school, I immediately began working at Ethio Telecom as a daily laborer. While working there, I never stopped trying to pursue my dream of studying medicine. I applied to Ethiopian Military Health Science College to study nursing and passed the entrance exam. I studied nursing there and became a first aid caregiver. After graduating college, I worked as a first aid caregiver at the Ethio-Eritrea War for a year, and then joined several hospitals throughout Ethiopia to serve in my profession.
How did you hear about TEBITA?

I have known Kibret Abebe (the founder of TEBITA) long before joining the company. While I was working at the Ethiopian Fire and Emergency Services, Kibret was one of our clients. I also met him while taking emergency medical service training courses at Addis Ababa University Medical College (Black Lion Campus), where he used to work before founding TEBITA. Ever since Kibret established TEBITA, I’ve been very fascinated with his work and his dream of becoming one of the top emergency caregivers in Ethiopia and the region. I used to tell Kibret that I was interested in working with him, and when I heard there was an opening, I immediately applied for the position of ambulance crew head.
In your own words, what are TEBITA and EAES trying to achieve at the local and national levels?

I believe TEBITA is making enormous changes to the healthcare industry in Ethiopia. It is known that Ethiopia is one of the countries with the highest rate of car accidents and deaths associated with accidents. But, this is mainly due to the lack of pre-hospital caregivers in Ethiopia. I believe Kibret opened this company with the aim to minimize the death rate that happens during the pre-hospital handling. TEBITA is revolutionizing the healthcare industry by addressing the service gap that occurs between the scene of an accident and the hospital, and minimizing death rates in the process. Although the government is trying to reduce the rate of car accidents occurring in the country, reducing the death rate during pre-hospital handling has been difficult. But, when emergency responders like TEBITA join the market, this problem will be fixed, and we finally will be able to start reducing the death rate. Most patients travel to hospitals in taxis, which makes saving their lives difficult once they reach the hospital. At TEBITA, we provide first aid services in our ambulances, which greatly improves the likelihood of the patient surviving. With this, we are minimizing the burden on the government and at the same time saving lives.
What makes TEBITA and EAES unique from their competitors?

At the moment there is very little competition in the emergency services sector in Ethiopia, as compared to other countries. Our main competitors are hospitals giving diagnostic services and providing ambulance services to patients. Not all nurses can be caregivers, and here at TEBITA anyone who is joining our company has to go through additional training to become an emergency responder. We give pre-hospital care to clients while transporting them to nearby hospitals, which makes the hospital’s job much easier. In addition to providing emergency services, we give first aid trainings and sell first aid kits.
What kind of social impact has TEBITA and EAES created in the local community?

Here at TEBITA, we believe that patients should not have to come to hospitals to get emergency health services, rather providers should go to them. Ambulance service does not simply mean transporting people from the scene of the accident to a nearby hospital, it is much more than that. An ambulance possesses care-providing equipment, such as: oxygen, face masks, nasal catheters, and emergency medicine. Every paramedic at TEBITA has this equipment in a kit so they can reach patients located in places where the ambulances cannot go. In addition to the emergency care services we give to clients, we also give services to elderly citizens traveling to hospitals regularly; we transport them in a safe way. All these services were not available before TEBITA, so this has positively impacted individuals needing such services. We see the impact everyday, we hear people’s feedback, and it is encouraging us to do more. We have changed the whole picture of the industry.
How has working for TEBITA changed your life?

I love what I do; I see the impact on the people everyday. This gives me a mental satisfaction to know I have saved someone’s life, even more than the money I get. Even financially, working at TEBITA has improved my life so much. And while my family does not like that I am busy all the time, they can always see the pleasure I get from doing what I do. They also understand that I do not want to disappoint my patients. Seeing me happy doing my job makes them very happy. My son even talks about TEBITA at home and gets very excited when he hears the ambulance siren.
Has your job at TEBITA empowered you as an individual?

Yes, it has empowered me a lot. I have always wanted to work in the medical sector. But working at TEBITA makes me realize everyday that I am doing what I love, which is saving lives.
What education / training have you received to date that prepared you for your role at TEBITA?

In addition to the nursing courses I took at the Ethiopian Military Health Science College, I have taken several trainings on emergency medical services from places such as: Addis Ababa University Medical College (Black Lion Campus), Fire and Emergency Services, and I have also worked in OPD (Outpatient Department) in several private clinics for 16 years throughout Ethiopia. After completing my trainings at the Black Lion Hospital, I also worked as a paramedic nurse and as a first aid caregiver at government hospitals in Addis Ababa and other cities. My experience in the sector has equipped me to become ambulance crew head at TEBITA and to give trainings on fire and emergency response.
What is your favorite part about working for TEBITA as an Emergency Medicine Nurse?

I love interacting with the clients and getting positive feedback. And getting ready for dispatch and rushing to save lives - this is the best part of my job. Also working at the stadium where major soccer games are taking place is one of the highlights of the job.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?

In the next 5 to 10 years, I see myself helping to grow TEBITA as a company. Because I am involved in the core business of the company, I feel like an owner of the company. Our company has plans to expand to air ambulance services, and growing the company from an emergency care provider in just Ethiopia to other East Africa countries. I dream of having dispatch centers all over Ethiopia to reach patients quickly, and growing our services in the region in the long term.
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