Suraphel Alemu

2019 Mandela Washington Fellow, Ethiopia

Toward A Common Goal: Preventing the Spread of COVID in Ethiopia

After completing his Mandela Washington Fellowship in summer 2019, Suraphel Alemu started Doctors in Action (DiA), a social enterprise and consultancy that promotes access to public health information across Ethiopia.  A doctor by training, he is passionate about democratizing healthcare by empowering individuals and promoting community service.

When the first case of COVID-19 in Ethiopia was confirmed on March 13, 2020, DiA collaborated with groups across Addis Ababa to create an integrated community response to the crisis.  Appropriately named Débo, which means “communal labor to a common goal” in Amharic, the goal of the response was to protect Ethiopians’ livelihoods, safeguard public health, and shield the community from the disease.

In addition to promoting information about COVID-19 in their communities, Débo trained local businesses and organizations on COVID prevention and how to respond safely and responsibly to the crisis, from basic employee protections like face masks and handwashing stations to how to evaluate a constantly-changing crisis situation.

Learn more about DiA’s inspiring work to tackle COVID-19 in Ethiopia in Suraphel’s own words in this video.

Written by Meredith Lopez.

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