Author: Action Amos IBE – Africa Vice President

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky to be able to return to Ethiopia. The trip coincided with the preparatory discussions of the face-to-face IBE Conference in November this year. Face-to-face meetings of this nature had been paused since the lockdown, and to strengthen our affiliates and our partnerships with other institutions IBE found it necessary to have such a meeting now. This is one of the plans that the IBE African Regional Committee has been having but had to stop for a while due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and we hope to get back on track during the next couple of years. We apprecaite the BAND Foundation for the contiuned support that is making this possible.

The visit to Ethiopia assisted to focus on finalising the preparations with the Government of Ethiopia and CareEpilepsy Ethiopia an IBE Chapter. We were able to identify key areas that the Conference would focus on based on the Epilepsy needs in Africa moving into the new era of advocacy driven by our new IBE Strategy.

The first meeting was with WHO Ethiopia in which CareEpilepsy Ethiopia presented the Conference concept. WHO Ethiopia was excited with this development knowing that this was coming soon after the endorsement of the Intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and other Neurological Disorders (IGAP) and it was a way of bringing to attention this instrument to the Ethiopian government.

I was then invited to a business lunch by the CareEpilepsy Ethiopia Board of Directors and discussed expectations of IBE and that of CareEpilesy Ethiopia reflecting on experiences from past such gatherings. Care Epilepsy is taking this conference as a Marketing tool that will ensure epilepsy is put on the agenda in Ethiopia. IBE is using the platform to re-energies its affiliates together with its partners on the work ahead. Talking of partners, we are anticipating AMREF Health Africa, Epilepsy Innovation In Africa (EpINA) project, Italian Neurological Association, International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), World Health Organisation, and ROW Foundation to participate in this work. Negotiations are ongoing with WHO Afro Region to ensure that we complement each other’s efforts and discuss IGAP strategies in the extended workshop to the IBE Conference

The next day I had an opportunity to meet with the Minister of Health Dr. Lia Tadesse. It was an honor to have a discussion with her about the upcoming conference and she committed to support all our efforts to ensure that this Conference is a success. In addition, together with CareEpilepsy Ethiopia we also asked her to assist with the domestication of IGAP and she pledged to look into that together with the Ethiopian Neurological Association who were part of the meeting.

I was then invited to have dinner with a long-time friend of mine now with the Ethiopian Development Research Institute and had a good discussion about the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. We looked at how the work of this Commission is going on in the selected countries including Ethiopia and ended up focusing on how other vulnerable groups have been side-lined in the Climate Change Agenda. The discussion we had opened a Pandora’s box of issues that as persons with epilepsy and advocates need to start thinking about if the Climate Change Agenda is going to be inclusive especially Climate Change Justice.

As they say in Ethiopia, a good conversation is better than a good bed. All these meetings were very useful in starting to discuss collaborations through training, awareness, and other activities making use of the IBE Strategy and those of other like-minded partners. I look forward to continuing these in more detail over the coming months, especially next week when we focus on how Climate Change is affecting vulnerable groups like persons with epilepsy.