Kassa to address Ethiopian public health as Fulbright Scholar

After several years of building ties with universities and agencies in Ethiopia, Dr. Hailu Kassa, public and allied health, will be able to expand his efforts on behalf of his native country when he returns in August as a Fulbright Scholar.

Dr. Hailu Kassa

Kassa will spend 10 months in the capital, Addis Ababa. “I laid the groundwork in 2002 when I went on a fact-finding mission through a faculty research grant,” Kassa said. Now he hopes to “cement the relationship” by helping the government and universities develop long-term plans for public health initiatives. Another objective is to aid in the search for grant funding for health-related projects, from organizations such as the United Nations and the U.S. Agency for International Development and from U.S. institutions for collaborations with Ethiopian institutions.

He has been the catalyst for a series of visits to Ethiopia by BGSU faculty members. Following his first visit, Kassa returned in 2003 with Drs. Charles (Chris) Keil and Gary Silverman, environmental health, to meet and establish links with officials in the government and at Addis Ababa University. He and Keil later offered a two-week seminar on air quality for faculty at regional universities and employees of the Ethiopian equivalent of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Based on that seminar, Keil gave two similar seminars at Jimma University, southwest of the capital. Last December, Kassa returned once again for a two-week visit to Addis Ababa University to teach graduate students in environmental and occupational health.

“Now I would like to continue to work and find internships for students and opportunities for faculty exchanges between BGSU and Ethiopia,” he said.

Kassa joined the BGSU faculty in 2000. A former sanitarian with the Toledo-Lucas County Board of Health, he has partnered with Silverman in 2004 and 2007 on Ohio and U.S. EPA- funded projects aimed at reducing lead poisoning in urban and rural homes in Toledo and northwest Ohio.

He is not the only one in his family helping Ethiopia. His daughter Robin, a 2004 BGSU alumna who is pursuing her master of public health in epidemiology degree at the University of Washington-Seattle, has founded a nongovernmental organization named Tesfa, meaning “hope,” that provides financial assistance to purchase books and other school essentials and to care for orphaned Ethiopian children.

June 23, 2008