Short History of Establishment of OPA

Time brings unforgettable memories associated with life. When looked back a few decades back from today, we have witnessed lots of challenges in the health of our community. There were heartbreaking health care service challenges, which our innocent and very humble people living in this evergreen land were facing. These challenges existed for a long period of years. Physicians and a lot of

Dr. Solan Bekele, (Founding Member Former President, OPA)

Oromo medical students had been observing these challenges but they could not get a way out. As a new generation, if we kept silent too, we will be part of those who contributed to the sufferings of our people as it was quoted once, ‘‘the world is a dangerous place; not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing’’. This promoted the establishment of Oromia Physicians Association (OPA).

Oromia Physicians Association was founded in 2017 at a meeting called to support Oromo communities displaced from the Somalia region. It was a moment when a peaceful protest swept through Oromia and we were left in pain due to close to 1 million Oromo displaced internally. During this time, Oromo physicians working in Finfnnee were gathered at Caffee Oromia Hall to discuss how to provide support for the displaced communities. A very substantive discussion made at the time finally marked on the need to establish an association which brings all physicians for collective effort. The meeting created a committee to run both the urgent need of supporting internally displaced communities and facilitate the establishment of an association to advance research, improve medical education and public health. Many of the founders of OPA (Dr. Senbeta Guteta, Dr. Jilcha Diribi, Dr. Petros Jirata, Dr. Sisay Lemma, Dr Hawibilisuma Fituma, Dr.Mamo Deksisa, and I) were part of the committee elected.

The idea about forming an organization to bring Oromo physicians however dated many years back. Medical students, residents, Short History of Establishment of Oromia Physicians Association (OPA) seniors learning, and working at different university hospitals tried to establish similar associations since the early 1990th. Students at Tikur Anbassa Specialized Hospital, Jimma University Specialized Hospital, Gondar University Teaching Hospital, Hawassa University Referral Hospital, and Mekelle University Ayder Comprehensive Specialized Hospital took the initiative to establish an association. Tokkummaa Baratoota Yuunivarsiitii Gondar, Oromo Doctors Association at Jimma University,

Oromo Medical Association at Addis Ababa University, and Oromia Medical Doctors Association at Hawassa Universities were some of these initiatives. However, all the initiatives failed due to the usual presumption of organizing Oromo intellectuals was regarded as a threat to political community. Here is one of the memories of what happened at Jimma University. In December 2005 GC, the process of establishing an association of Oromo physicians was started at the university, in the Pentagon dormitory. To realize this, a legal document was prepared and the legalization process was started at Oromia Justice bureau by a name called ‘Oromo Doctors Association (ODA)’, but it was failed due to the usual political problem preventing Oromo professionals from forming an organization. I took the responsibility of forming a network among the physicians leading the process to establish ODA. It was latter supported by Dr. Ilili Jemal, Dr. Muleta Befkane and others. That trial-initiated my arrest in August 2005 GC. At that moment, I was arrested and imprisoned for 12 days while on the way to my family for vacation.

Such initiatives were repeatedly tried but failed many more times. Despite all these challenges, many Oromo physicians continued advocating it further. Different informal groups were formed at different institutions for the same objective and the spirit of the organization continued. With the advent of social media, some networks were created for discussion among physicians to support health service delivery in Oromia. Near the end of 2016, a Viber group was created with a name called Oromo Medical Doctors Association (OMDA). This group had been helping people coming to hospitals in Finfnnee for further treatment from all parts of Oromia.

When our people were displaced from the Somalia region and its borders with Oromia, physicians working in Finfnnee, undergraduates, general practitioners, residents, and seniors, met to discuss how to help them, the idea of organizing Oromo physicians was raised in 2017. A committee elected as a task force to facilitate the establishment of an association was unable to meet for some13 Safeguarding health profesionals to safeguardhealth care system! months. Later on, three physicians, namely, Dr. Peteros Jirata, Dr. Lemi Belay, and I met and discussed in Finfnnee, around Gullele on how to proceed with the legalization. As part of the decision from this discussion, the below-listed physicians with similar initiatives working in different institutions were invited and held the 1st meeting on April 21, 2018 at Waliif Health Share Company meeting hall, on the 8th floor of Awash Building, Lideta, Finfnnee.

  1. Dr. Solan Bekele
  2. Dr. Lemi Belay
  3. Dr. Petros Jirata
  4. Dr. Fekadu Assefa
  5. Dr. Jilcha Diribi
  6. Dr. Bonso Bude
  7. Dr. Dessale Fikad

Many meetings conducted on weekly basis at the same place. Required documents including bylaws, business plan, election of executive and board committees, design of logo prepared. Finally, Oromia physicians’ association was legally registered on June 28, 2018 with three main objectives; to ensure the right of our physicians is protected while executing their responsibility, ensure professionalism and play its role in health service improvement with its motto, ‘’Selfless commitment to give back – Kutannoo of keenneen dugda baasuu!’’ by the following physicians who later became the ex ecutive committee.

  1. Dr. Solan Bekele—President
  2. Dr. Fekadu Assefa …Vice President
  3. Dr. Jilcha Diribi…General Secretory
  4. Dr. Lemi Belay…Member
  5. Dr. Petros Jirata…Member
  6. Dr. Ilili Jemal…Member
  7. Dr. Desale Fekadu…Member
  8. Dr. Gemechu Kuma …member
  9. Dr. Feyisa Ayele…Member
  10. Dr. Moti Belay…Member
  11. Dr. Lalise Gemechu…Member
  12. Dr. Bonso Bude…Member
  13. Dr. Sena Dhugasa…Member
  14. Dr. Hawibilisuma Fituma…Member

The 1st board members elected were:

  1. Dr. Senbeta Guteta …Board chair person
  2. Dr. Abate Bane …V/Board chairperson
  3. Dr. Tola Bayisa …Secretory
  4. Dr. Andargachew Kumsa …Member
  5. Dr. Befkadu Lemu…Memeber
  6. Dr.Maru Gama…Member
  7. Obbo. Workineh Gudisa …Member
  8. Adde Lensa Bekele …Member
  9. Dr.Tokuma Dhaba …Member
  10. Dr. Gemechu Waktola…Member
  11. Obbo Kabirhusen Wako…Member

Generally, this association was established by winning all the challenges and became successful in starting serving our physicians to engage in personal development, build a better resume, creating professional relationships, developing leadership, and above all, it helped to give back to the community at large.

1 thought on “Short History of Establishment of OPA”

  1. I am proud of the Oromia Physician Association, which has done a remarkable task in supporting the most vulnerable community we serve. No matter where we live or what we do, being part of this crucial organization remained appealing to the global Oromo community, healthcare professionals, and the ordinary population. We must be united and address the significant challenges of all people needing health care, food, education, and overall quality of life. Together, we all make a difference and call on action to overcome devastating circumstances that we must not ignore, but act and support to sustain the lives of many. I highly recommend that the board of directors and leaders of this association reach out to global healthcare professionals to encourage and engage in OPA by being a member as well as commit to having accountability for our nation, in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Middle East, Australia, and Africans countries.

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