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By Tekle Tesfalidet

the unwavering dedication and passion demonstrated by the scholarship recipients in serving their country exemplify their personal integrity and the objective of EPHI/NIPN Ethiopia to nurture well-trained, skilled, and capable professionals through the PhD scholarship program…

In our previous quarterly newsletters, we featured inspiring stories of four exceptional EPHI/NIPN scholarship recipients who are pursuing their education at prestigious universities worldwide. This time, we turn our attention to Andinet Abera, a scholarship recipient currently pursuing his doctoral studies at the esteemed University College Cork in the Republic of Ireland. This article explores Andinet's academic journey, highlighting his experiences, challenges, and aspirations, and sheds light on the profound impact of this scholarship on his personal growth and potential contributions to public health and nutrition in Ethiopia.

As a student at University College Cork, Andinet finds himself in an environment that fosters advanced research and academic growth. The university's reputation as a center of excellence and its commitment to innovative research provide him with a supportive and intellectually stimulating atmosphere for his PhD studies.

When asked about his studies at the university, Andinet Abera expressed his gratitude for the scholarship, which has provided invaluable financial assistance covering his university fees and accommodation expenses during his stay in Ireland. This support has been crucial for his participation in courses and other important on-campus activities.

When asked about the potential impact of the scholarship program on the development of Ethiopia's healthcare system, Dr. Aregash Samuel, Senior Researcher at EPHI and Coordinator of the NIPN project within EPHI, expressed her hopes and expectations, stating that providing such opportunities through scholarships would help strengthen the capacity of researchers in generating and synthesizing evidence. As PhD students, they would generate data-based evidence, focusing on nutrition-related issues. Dr. Aregash emphasized the significant contribution their research findings would make towards filling the existing evidence gap in nutrition and advancing scientific knowledge.


Regarding his specific research topic for his PhD and its potential impact on public health and nutrition in Ethiopia, Andinet Abera noted that his research focuses on the subject of "Local Food System's Performance and Its Influence on Availability, Access, and Consumption of Nutrient Adequate Diet: A Panel Study on Ethiopian Households." He anticipates that this study will meticulously investigate the intricate relationship between various components of the local food systems in Ethiopia and their effects on the food acquisition and consumption patterns of households and individuals. Furthermore, he aims to identify key areas that offer opportunities for enhancements and advancements in this domain.

By providing scholarships to dedicated individuals like Andinet, it goes without saying that NIPN Ethiopia is not only strengthening the capacity of researchers but also supporting research efforts that address crucial issues in public health and nutrition. Andinet's research aligns perfectly with the goals of the scholarship program, as it aims to generate data-based evidence and contribute to filling the existing evidence gap in nutrition.

When discussing the challenges he encountered during his doctoral studies and how he overcame them, Andinet Abera candidly shared his experiences. He mentioned that obtaining research funds was a notable challenge, as the scholarship did not cover the expenses for his research project. However, he was able to leverage data from related projects conducted by the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) to overcome this hurdle.

Andinet emphasized the potential impact of the PhD program on his career goals and the development of the healthcare sector in Ethiopia, particularly in the field of nutrition. He aims to gain a comprehensive understanding of food systems within the Ethiopian context. With Ethiopia adopting a food systems approach to address nutrition challenges, Andinet aspires to contribute to the collective efforts aimed at achieving the nutrition goals of his country.

When asked about advice for students interested in pursuing a PhD program in public health or nutrition in Ethiopia, Andinet emphasized the significance of developing clear research ideas and employing a sound and rigorous methodology. He also recommended aspiring students prioritize seeking fully funded PhD scholarships, as they would be more beneficial compared to partial funding.

Andinet also provided suggestions on how the scholarship program could be enhanced to better support PhD students in their studies and research. He recommended striving to secure full funding for students at EPHI in future opportunities, considering the challenges he faced as a partially funded student.

Regarding networking and collaboration with other researchers and professionals in his field through the scholarship, Andinet confirmed that he has had the opportunity to connect and collaborate with fellow researchers and professionals within and beyond the PhD program. He also engaged in various professional and skill development opportunities in Ireland, all made possible by the scholarship. He expressed his gratitude for the significant benefits he gained from these experiences.

Finally, when asked about his commitment to the organization that awarded him the PhD scholarship, Andinet, like all the other EPHI/NIPN PhD scholarship recipients, affirmed his unwavering commitment to serving his country.

In conclusion, the unwavering dedication and passion demonstrated by the scholarship recipients in serving their country exemplify their personal integrity and the objective of EPHI/NIPN Ethiopia to nurture well-trained, skilled, and capable professionals through the PhD scholarship program. As they embark on their journey to contribute to society, their resolute commitment will undoubtedly, drive them towards excellence and empower them to effect positive change, both within their country and on a broader scale.



By Hailegebriel Endeshaw

(Communications Officer – NIPN/EPHI)

…A Monitoring, Evaluation, and Research Steering Committee (MER SC) meeting, sponsored by the National Information Platform for Nutrition (NIPN-Ethiopia) held in Dire-Dawa City, was a favorable platform for Dr. Haji to express his concern over the prevalence of EC in the country. Dr. Haji, with long years’ experience in nutrition and esophageal cancer, has stressed that although the government is doing its level best to prevent the non-communicable diseases including cancer, “esophageal [has been] left in the dark”…

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have become the leading cause of mortality in developing countries. Sources indicate that in recent years, NCDs, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and cancer, have become “an emerging pandemic globally with disproportionately higher rates in developing countries”. The World Health Organization estimated that the global burden of NCDs would increase by 17% in the next ten years and in the African Region by 27%. 

Like any other developing nations, NCDs have also been a health threat to Ethiopia. Esophageal cancer (EC) is among these NCDs that have gone rampant in the country. Researchers have made official the remarkable increase in the incidence of esophageal cancer in many parts of Ethiopia. Dr. Haji Aman, an assistant professor of Human Nutrition, is working as an instructor and researcher on nutritional problems, metabolic syndromes, and cancer at Adama Hospital Medical College. He has conducted research on EC.


A Monitoring, Evaluation, and Research Steering Committee (MER SC) meeting, sponsored by the National Information Platform for Nutrition (NIPN-Ethiopia) held in Dire-Dawa City, was a favorable platform for Dr. Haji to express his concern over the prevalence of EC in the country. Dr. Haji, with long years’ experience in nutrition and esophageal cancer, has stressed that although the government is doing its level best to prevent the non-communicable diseases including cancer, “esophageal [has been] left in the dark”.

According to available sources, EC occurs in the esophagus, which is a long, hollow tube that runs from the throat to the stomach. A person with EC will have a swollen throat tube that clogs the food passage. “There are two major tissue types: Squamous cell carcinoma and Adenocarcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the esophageal epitheliumand is common in developing countries, while adenocarcinoma develops in the esophageal glands and is prevalent in developed countries”.


Dr. Haji Aman said in an exclusive interview he had with the NIPN communications officer in Dire-Dawa City that the Arsi and Bale Zones in Ethiopia were known as EC endemic areas along Africa’s EC belt. “The data taken from local areas such as Adama, Asella, and Goba Hospitals also indicated that it is the 2nd most prevalent cancer next to breast cancer, as opposed to the cancer distribution patterns in other regions of Ethiopia.”

Dr. Haji said, mentioning a study carried out in ten rural hospitals in Ethiopia, that esophageal cancer is the third most prevalent cancer of all forms of cancer. It is the second most common cancer in males, next to prostate cancer, and the third most common cancer among females, next to breast and cervical cancer. “In that study, the largest proportion of patients were from Aira Hospital in West Oromia Region. Other studies show that esophageal cancer accounts for 15% of all cancers in Addis Ababa and the southern part of the country, 7.4%, and 4.9% in Amhara and other regional states, respectively”.

Studies indicate that 92.3% of the affected compatriots are farmers in rural areas. What is alarming is that researchers are observing EC among the younger population below 19 years of age. “In my study, 7.1% of patients were ≤ 39 years of age; the youngest male and female patients were 19 and 25 years old, respectively. Only 9.6% reported a family history of cancer. The median survival time after diagnosis is six months. The majority (about 80%) of EC patients presented at advanced stages (stages III and IV),” Dr. Haji said.

Expressing the seriousness of the disease, Dr. Haji recounted the story of a lady who lost 13 of her relatives due to esophageal cancer. “During my PhD research, I went to one of the districts in the Arsi Zone to gather local evidence related to the disease burden. A 52-year-old female participant involved in the focus group discussion told me that 13 of her relatives died of esophageal cancer, and another four of her neighbors were diagnosed with it during that time,” he said.

What the EC patients say while getting treatment can clearly show how grave the problem is. Dr. Haji said that patients who come to health facilities usually request their care providers to help them swallow their saliva at least once before they die. These patients don`t ask for remedies or medications that relieve their pain. They rather request the health professionals to enable them to swallow their saliva. One can see how tough it is for the patients to dine and swallow, Dr. Haji said.  

Speaking of the causes of the disease, Dr. Haji noted that there is no conclusive evidence regarding the reasons for the clustering of cases in specific geographical areas. He, however, mentioned a few studies that testify about the cause of EC. Accordingly, the consumption of false bananas (Kocho), salty diets, inadequate vegetable intake, chewing khat, drinking very hot coffee, too much intake of coffee, very hot porridge, hasty consumption of hot food, alcohol drinking, and tobacco use are the most common factors associated with esophageal cancer in Ethiopia.

The researcher, Dr. Haji, said that the causes of esophageal cancer are multifactorial. The notable geographic dispersion of esophageal cancer in Ethiopia suggests a complex phenomenon that cannot be handled by a single institution or person. “The problem is massive, and we have to pull knowledge, skills, and resources together to prevent the disease, provide care, and support the affected communities,” he said. 

Currently, there are efforts being made by scholars, universities, researchers, clinicians, and prominent individuals to find solutions for this deadly disease. Dr. Haji said that activities are underway to make the disease an agenda for policymakers and many stakeholders. The other major achievement is reportedly the establishment of a multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary task force that comprises the Ministry of Health (MoH), Oromia Health Bureau (OHB), Arsi University, Madda Walabu University, Adama Hospital Medical College, Negelle Arsi General Hospital Medical College, professional associations, and community leaders.

Dr. Haji said that two national conferences were organized in Asella and Addis Ababa, in which high- level officials, members of professional associations, research institutions, prominent public figures, and government officials from OHB and MoH participated. “We developed an endoscopy training curriculum for upper gastro-intestine (UGI) endoscopy and biopsy in Ethiopia in collaboration with MoH, OHB, and Saint Paul Millennium Medical College. We trained health professionals on UGI endoscopy for Asella and Goba teaching and referral hospitals that couldn't render endoscopy services, despite having the equipment (endoscopes). Now all facilities are rendering UGI endoscopy and biopsy services which fundamentally will improve access to diagnostic services and facilitate better detection and treatment of cases in the area,” Dr. Haji said.

Every stakeholder in the health sector is expected to play a role in preventing this fatal disease. The Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) has also been called upon to support the initiative. Dr. Haji said that technical support and collaboration are needed from national and international organizations. “Therefore, I would kindly ask EPHI and its partners to assist our efforts. We want to work on the magnitude of the disease and contributing factors and develop appropriate preventive measures. I hope the Armauer Hansen Research Institute (AHRI), EPHI, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and other researchers will [positively] respond to our call,” Dr. Haji said.

(Findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed here above reflect only views of the researcher.) 


By Tekle Tesfalidet


In a nation-wide effort to transform child health and nutrition, and combat the long-standing challenges of malnutrition, Ethiopia unveiled the groundbreaking Seqota Declaration in July 2015. With an unwavering determination to eliminate child malnutrition and achieve a zero-stunting rate by 2030, this ambitious program has emerged as a ray of hope for the country's youngest generation. Spearheaded by the Ministry of Health, the Seqota Declaration has made remarkable strides, largely thanks to the invaluable contributions of the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI)/ the National Information Platform for Nutrition (NIPN), and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). These organizations have played a pivotal role by generating evidence to assess the program's implementation status, enabling informed decision-making at higher levels of government. Through their steadfast commitment to evidence-based research and active participation in decision-making processes, EPHI and NIPN have been instrumental in driving the Seqota Declaration towards unprecedented success.


The Seqota Declaration (SD) is an innovative commitment by the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) to end child stunting by 2030. It is implemented nationwide, targeting areas with the highest malnutrition rates in consultation with regional governments. The SD aims to eradicate child malnutrition in Ethiopia with a phased approach: innovation phase (2015-2020), expansion phase (2021-2025), and scale-up phase (2026-2030). The primary goal is to eliminate hunger, ensure food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture for overall development. For SD implementation, the government allocates the necessary budget from its treasury, supplemented by resources from nutrition partners. The Ministry of Health coordinates the Seqota Declaration with the support of a Federal Program Delivery Unit, which facilitates coordination and engagement among multiple sectors and stakeholders in nutrition.

According to the SD document, initially, the program focused on the Tekeze basin in Amhara and Tigray regional states, covering 40 Woredas. The declaration took its name from the town of Seqota, the capital of the Wag Hemra Zone in Amhara Regional State, which faced severe famine in the 1980s.

To assess the impact of the initial expansion phase of the Seqota Declaration (SD) and inform evidence-based decision-making, researchers from EPHI/NIPN, and IFPRI conducted an impact assessment. This rigorous assessment, utilizing the Lives Saved Tool (LiST) modeling, was carried out from May to October 2023. It provided invaluable insights into the progress achieved in reducing childhood stunting and mortality through the implementation of the SD.

The assessment revealed that within just one year after the initial expansion of the SD into 240 Woredas, the program successfully prevented a total of about 60,000 cases of stunting and 2,900 cases of mortality. Looking ahead, projections were made to estimate the potential impact of further expanding the SD program. Projection assessments showed that further expansion of the SD would significantly reduce the rate of stunting and mortality.

These remarkable findings received high praise and commendation during a collaborative high-level government meeting held sometime back. The gathering, which involved the former Deputy Prime-Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministers of the multi-sectoral Ministries, regional presidents, and regional bureau heads, aimed to evaluate the performance of the 2022-2023(2015 E.C.), approve the budget for 2023-2024 (2016 E.C.), and introduce a transformation roadmap for nutrition. The attendance of key stakeholders, such as the Federal Ministry of Health Nutrition Coordination Office, regional administrators, urban city administrators, mayors, and sector heads, reflected the government's comprehensive approach to addressing nutrition challenges.

The chair of the meeting, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ato Demeke Mekonnen, expressed admiration for the results based on the conclusive findings of the impact assessment. Additionally, the former Deputy Prime Minister emphasized the need for sustained efforts to achieve the program's ultimate goal. The importance of community participation and leadership throughout the implementation process was also underscored.

On her part, the former Minister of Health, Dr. Liya Tadesse, lauded the achievements and emphasized the importance of expanding the Seqota Declaration from its current reach of 240 to 700 Woredas in the coming years. Dr. Liya further emphasized that expanding the Seqota Declaration's coverage to 10% of the country's total area, based on additional studies, could potentially save 80,340 stunted children within a year.

The results achieved so far have had a big impact on government decisions and policies. Ethiopia has shown its dedication to addressing nutrition challenges and improving the health of its people by allocating a 696 million Birr (ETB) budget for the expansion of the Seqota Declaration during 2023-2024 (2016 E.C.). Notably, several regional states have allocated funds to support the initiative, further emphasizing the widespread recognition of its importance. The expansion program of the projects is making a remarkable contribution to various aspects, including ensuring food security at the household level, promoting local development, creating job opportunities for the youth, and ensuring female participation and benefits.

Here, it is important to emphasize the significance of the study findings, as they have provided robust support for the decision to allocate significant funding towards expanding SD activities into additional Woredas. Moreover, these findings offer valuable insights to higher officials, enabling them to gain a better understanding of the status of SD implementation in relation to the planned activities.

To further strengthen evidence-based decision-making and prioritize health system and nutrition research, researchers at EPHI/NIPN Ethiopia are tirelessly dedicating their efforts to generating timely, relevant, and high-quality evidence. Ensuring the widespread adoption of evidence throughout the research process is crucial. This requires emphasizing the importance of timeliness, relevance, engagement with decision-makers, and maintaining high quality. Actively involving decision-makers in the research process promotes the effective utilization and application of the evidence, fostering informed decision-making in the field of health and nutrition.

Furthermore, in addition to their work in generating timely information, EPHI and NIPN Ethiopia have actively engaged in advocacy campaigns aimed at raising awareness about the critical importance of nutrition and the Seqota Declaration. They have utilized various platforms, including media engagements, public events, their website, social media channels, policy briefs, and community outreach initiatives, to promote understanding and garner support for improved nutrition outcomes.

Through these multifaceted approaches, they have not only sought to disseminate knowledge but also foster a broader understanding of the significance of nutrition in achieving positive health outcomes. By actively engaging with the public, policymakers, and communities, EPHI/NIPN Ethiopia continues to play a vital role in promoting awareness and garnering support for initiatives that aim to improve nutrition on a larger scale.

As the country strives to eliminate stunting and improve nutrition, collaborative efforts and evidence-based approaches are crucial for achieving success. Researchers from EPHI/NIPN, and IFPRI tirelessly work to deliver high-quality evidence in a timely manner. Unlike traditional approaches that poorly involve policymakers in the research process, they actively engage decision-makers.

EPHI and NIPN/Ethiopia researchers dedicate their efforts to generating timely, relevant, and high-quality evidence, strengthening evidence-based decision-making, and prioritizing health system and nutrition research. Emphasizing the importance of timeliness, relevance, engagement with decision-makers, and maintaining high quality is essential to ensuring the widespread adoption of evidence throughout the research process. Additionally, engaging decision-makers proactively in the research process facilitates the optimal utilization and application of evidence, thereby cultivating well-informed decision-making in the realm of health and nutrition.

Actively involving decision-makers in the research process promotes the effective utilization and application of the evidence, fostering informed decision-making in the field of health and nutrition.

In conclusion, the Seqota Declaration serves as a testament to Ethiopia's resolute dedication to eliminating child stunting and enhancing the welfare of its children. However, the realization of such commitments hinges solely on evidence-based decision-making. The declaration exemplifies the utmost importance of basing policy choices on robust evidence and has showcased the transformative potential of collaboration between research institutions and decision-makers. As Ethiopia continues on its path to eradicate child malnutrition and address other health challenges, the invaluable contributions of EPHI and NIPN will persist as crucial drivers in attaining the ambitious objectives outlined in the Seqota Declaration and other health and nutrition initiatives.


By Hailegebriel Endeshaw (Communications Officer with NIPN/EPHI)

All professionals who have been engaged in various careers need to upgrade their capacities regularly. This is generally known as professional development. Processes like upgrading, refreshing, training, and familiarizing oneself with new developments are given special emphasis in professional development. Professional development is of paramount importance in continuing one’s career growth and stepping up efforts to achieve one’s goals.

An individual can develop his/her profession through education, training, workshops, conferences, etc. If the given training or professional development endeavors are needed to be fruitful, many things can be considered as inputs. The most important one is the professional himself or herself, who takes the training or professional development course. A professional or an expert who stays long without having the regular updating of his/her profession is like a sword that has not been whetted.

The National Information Platform for Nutrition (NIPN) promotes evidence-based decision-making for nutrition and supports the implementation of the National Food and Nutrition Policy in Ethiopia.

NIPN is hosted by the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), but works under the national nutrition governance system and collaborates with many multi-sectoral nutrition stakeholders and partners of the National Food and Nutrition Policy and the National Food and Nutrition Strategy.

The task taken by NIPN needs serious effort and diligence. Taking this into consideration, NIPN has been engaged in the professional development or skill upgrading of partners and stakeholders. That’s why it has kept on providing regular trainings on building professional capacities. 

Tsehay Kelemework is an instructor at Bahirdar University in the Amhara Region. She is one of the professionals who regularly attends the training and other career development programs of NIPN. She said she has taken trainings on Partnership Management, and Data Visualization.

Tsehay said that the training she received has helped her a lot in the activities she is carrying out along with her partners. “It has capacitated me to work with national and international institutions. For instance, I have become efficient at working with IFPRI,” Tsehay said.

Tsehay also said that the training being given by NIPN has given her the capacity to produce joint proposals with colleagues and win projects. “We have built our capacity to formulate joint grant proposals along with international (European and African) universities,” she said, adding that “particularly, the training on Partnership Management has enabled me to augment my confidence.”

Tsehay said that the training being given by NIPN is very helpful. But she suggests that, as all experts in almost similar fields trained together, it is good if the concerned body creates a platform that enables all to come together regularly for professional upgrading or refreshment. “This would make our training very fruitful. Let the capacity building and the issue of working together continue in an intensified manner,” she said.

Tsehay proposed that NIPN could provide more training on Leadership and Research Management.

Masresha Minuye is working for the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research as the Food Quality and Nutrition Research National Program Coordinator. He is one of the participants who regularly received training given by NIPN. Masresha recalled that he received various trainings like Data Analysis Using STATA, Data Visualization Using Power BI. Masresha said that the training he has taken has helped him a lot in his daily work. It enabled him to use the collected research data in transparent and meaningful ways, according to him. “I have learned that the data should be delivered in a manner that is transparent to readers and easily applicable by policy makers. I have learned that we should put research data in a website data repository,” Masresha said.

Regarding the change the training has brought to his work, Masresha said that he has developed a better understanding of utilizing data. “The training enabled me how I should use the research data in a much more convenient manner in my daily coordination responsibilities,” he said.

Masresha said that the trainings being given by NIPN regularly are very important and timely. “The topics picked for the training are very appropriate and timely.” He further said that NIPN should coordinate national food and nutrition related works in a better way and put the research works in a repository… Masresha has a view that it would be good if NIPN could think of giving training on “The Evaluation and Development Program”.

Abraham Aregai is working for the Tigray Health Research Institute. He is among the experts who regularly receive training given by NIPN. Abraham said that he has taken training on Scientific Reading and Writing, Introduction to Analysis Using STATA, Introduction to GIS, and Power-BI for Visualization.

Speaking of the benefit he got from the various trainings supplied by NIPN, Abraham said that the training helped him to write and analyze data from secondary data sources properly. “The training helped me to see the changes in the environment regarding the same disease. I have also shared with my colleagues the major points of the training I received here,” Abraham said.

Abraham is of the opinion that if more training on different topics is given, it will be much more helpful. He proposed training under the following topics: Grant Writing, STATA, GIS at an advanced level, Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

He said that it would be good if NIPN thought of involving more regional institutes during such important training, as it helps to boost their effectiveness and quality. 

Coordinator of NIPN-Ethiopia, Aregash Samuel (Dr.), said that different capacity-building trainings have been provided to nutrition researchers, media houses, and partners, including the NIPN and EPHI teams. She said that the training focused on developing skills to increase the capacity of NIPN’s team to better serve the needs of nutrition researchers. The training also focuses on using media to communicate health and health-related scientific evidence.

Speaking of the outcome, the NIPN-Ethiopia Coordinator said that following the training given on various occasions, NIPN’s teams have been able to use the new skills and knowledge gained from the training to make great strides in research, media relations, and partnership activities. “Our nutrition researchers have acquired new skills to analyze national nutrition data, generate evidence, and use an internationally designed tool called LiST (Lives Saved Tool). Our media team has used their improved communication skills to write newsletters and update the NIPN social media and website on the progress of our research,” she said.

Aregash said that in analyzing the existing data and evidence to respond to the policy questions, the capacity of researchers needs to be built. That’s why NIPN has been engaged in providing various capacity building trainings. NIPN 2.0 has planned to provide nine trainings during the project period. It is to be recalled that more than six trainings were provided during NIPN 1.0.

NIPN has not implemented any assessment methods so far regarding the evaluation of the trainings being given. But after every training, it has been collecting views and comments from trainees. Apart from that, “we hear informally that researchers have benefited from the training,” Dr. Aregash said.

NIPN-Ethiopia has provided training on various subjects since 2020. In 2020, a training was given to researchers drawn from different organizations under the theme, “the best ways to provide evidence and interact with policy and decision makers”, according to Aregash.

The other training was also given to program officers drawn from sectoral offices in 2021 on Project Planning, implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation. Dr. Aregash said that so far, three trainings have been given to private and public media staff and PR officers from multi-sectoral offices on “Access to Health Research Information” in October 2021.

Trainings given in 2023 include, among others, Data Visualization: Introduction to Creating Dashboards using Power BI for EPHI staff; Writing Potentially Fundable Proposals; Partnership Management; Basic STATA training; Systematic review and Meta-analysis; Data Visualization: Introduction to Creating Dashboards using Power BI for MER SC. (NIPN)



By Tekle Tesfalidet

As the saying goes, investing in education always yields the best dividends. It is widely recognized that investing in education is one of the most valuable investments an organization or a country can make, given its long-term benefits that far outweigh the initial costs. Although investing in education or training demands significant time, effort, and financial resources, the knowledge and skills acquired through education can lead to greater opportunities for individuals, sponsoring organizations, and the country at large.

In line with this perspective, as mentioned in our previous issue, NIPN Ethiopia has awarded PhD scholarships to five employees from EPHI and one from the Ministry of Agriculture/Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR). These recipients are currently pursuing their studies at prestigious universities, including Oklahoma State University (OSU), Addis Ababa University (AAU), Wageningen University and Research (WUR), and University College Cork (UCC).

In our previous issue, we explored the stories of two scholarship winners participating in a dual degree program offered by OSU and AAU. Now, we shift our focus to two scholarship recipients from EPHI and the Ministry of Agriculture/EIAR. They are currently studying at Wageningen University and Research (WUR) and University College Cork (UCC). Temesgen Awoke, from EPHI, is pursuing his education at UCC, while Ruth Mijena, from the MOA/EIAR, is studying at WUR. Both of them have served as researchers in their respective organizations.

This piece will focus on their areas of research, the significant impact the scholarships have had on their professional trajectories, and their commitment to their organization and country.

Rightly, they are both highly appreciative of the scholarship grant. Temesgen says, “Receiving this scholarship is essential for my financial stability and is a crucial component of my academic pursuits, complemented by additional institutional support.” Ruth, on her part, remarks, “I am grateful that the scholarship is helping me to pay for tuition fees and living allowances during the course of the PhD.”

When elaborating on the impact that the scholarship will have on the recipients, Dr. Aregash Samuel, Senior Researcher at EPHI and NIPIN Ethiopia Coordinator, said, 'As PhD students, they are going to generate data-based evidence, and all of them are studying nutrition-related issues.”  Adding further, she said, “Yes, their research findings will contribute to the science and fill the existing evidence gap in nutrition."

Speaking about his specific research topic for his PhD studies, Temesgen emphasizes that his research focuses on the food system of Ethiopia, particularly the food practices and their impact on diet quality and nutrient intake. He explains, "Through this study, my aim is to provide new empirical evidence on aspects of the food system and diet that have not been thoroughly explored before."

Ruth, on her part, said that the topic of her PhD study is “Circular food systems for a healthy diet and planet: The Ethiopian case.”She hoped that her study on circular food would have a significant impact on public health by examining whether the current food system contributes to a healthy diet or not. If not, she pointed out, "I aim to explore whether we can achieve a healthy diet and a sustainable environment by modeling and transitioning to a circular food system. Additionally, I will compare the current and future scenarios and propose pathways for policy development."

Regarding the challenges she encountered during her PhD program, Ruth highlighted the various obstacles she faced, particularly as a woman and a parent. She acknowledged that she constantly needed to find a balance between the demands of her study and her family responsibilities. The fact that her husband is taking most of the family responsibility and her daughter’s support is helping her to focus on her study. She emphasized that pursuing a PhD was a decision made by the entire family, considering it as a shared mission. Ruth expressed her optimism, stating, "I hope that we will successfully overcome these challenges when I graduate."

In Temesgen's case, one of the challenges he encountered was that the scholarship solely covered the tuition fee, “leaving no provision for research expenses.”

As young and dedicated public health researchers, Ruth and Temesgen have already established themselves as valuable assets within their respective organizations, which is why they were awarded the scholarship grant. Now, with the prestigious scholarship they have been granted, Ruth and Temesgen are even more determined to serve diligently, fully acknowledging and appreciating the significant investment made in their education and professional development.

When asked about his commitment to serving his organization after graduation, Temesgen stated, “I would serve my Institute according to the commitment I signed.”In response to the same question, Ruth expressed her dedication by saying, "To the fullest extent." She further emphasized, "As I mentioned earlier, the terms and conditions of the contract should not restrict a researcher who has the desire to serve his country to the fullest extent."

In conclusion, EPHI and NIPN Ethiopia's unwavering dedication to training and nurturing capable individuals to effectively promote nutrition and tackle the various factors contributing to malnutrition is evident. The provision of scholarships to the six individuals is a testament to their ongoing efforts. However, expanding these efforts by actively pursuing more scholarship opportunities for aspiring researchers, both domestically and internationally, is essential to inspiring and supporting future scholars in the field. While such initiatives pose challenges in terms of time, resources, and temporary personnel loss, the resulting benefits are highly rewarding.