EpiGen Ethiopia Successfully Hosts Highly Anticipated Project Kickoff

I had the pleasure of witnessing a well-oiled machine of a South-North Collaboration that is ready to co-implement the EpiGen Ethiopia project.Dr. JeanMarie Vianney Habarugira, Senior Scientific Officer at Global Health EDCTP3 Joint Undertaking. 


EpiGen Ethiopia is a project focused on developing Ethiopia’s capacity to prepare and respond to potential epidemics by strengthening local genomic epidemiological systems and giving timely and accurate information to public health officials for public health management. You can find out more by checking out our previous article on EpiGen here. 

The Global Health EDCTP3-funded 5-year program ‘EpiGen Ethiopia’ officially and virtually kicked off Friday, June 9. A unique team of 60 consortium participants gathered digitally, including notable guests like Director General Dr. Mesay Hailu from key stakeholder Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), Dr. Mebratu Massebo, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Health, and Dr. Jean-Marie Vianney Habarugira, a Senior Scientific Officer at Global Health EDCTP3 Joint Undertaking. Principal investigators Prof. Tobias Rinke de Wit (AIGHD Senior Fellow) and Dr. Dawit Wolday (EPHI) underscored the smooth and highly anticipated kickoff representing the team’s commitment to transform Ethiopia’s infectious disease monitoring and public health response systems. 

The call began with a round of introductions from the participants followed by welcome remarks from Dr. Mesay (EPHI), Dr. Jean-Marie (Global Health EDCTP3), Director of Operations Diana Numan (AIGHD), and Prof. Tobias (AIGHD) and Dr. Dawit (EPHI). Other speakers included Dr. Torsten Feldt (Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf), Dr. Denise Naniche (ISGlobal, Barcelona), Dr. Mebratu Massebo (Ethiopian Ministry of Health), and Ms. Diede Smith (AIGHD) each of whom introduced their partner contributions through different work packages.  

Despite the four-hour long Zoom call, participants remained engaged, especially as the team dove head-first into the details of the different work packages and necessary action points for the next five years. With the kickoff, participants were also introduced to work package team leads to provide everyone with a clear organizational structure and a line of feedback for the project. The work packages address major themes: translational clinical research, capacity building for pathogen genomic sequencing, building digital mobile diagnostic platforms for policy decisions, and promote communities of practice and knowledge. 

Prof. Tobias remarked, “I felt excited and very proud to ‘be back’ and meet so many dedicated and professional Ethiopian colleagues and friends, after having worked in the country for almost 10 years in the 1990s. We particularly appreciated the active presence of Global Health EDCTP3 representative Dr. Jean-Marie Vianney Habarugira, who provided the team with a very nice and personal email of support right afterwards.” 

AIGHD Project Manager Diede Smith ended the call with a detailed announcement of the highly anticipated in-person EpiGen official launch meeting from the 18th – 20th of September 2023 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

AIGHD is the overall managing and coordinating organization for the EpiGen Ethiopia project and we are proud to collaborate with our partners from Europe and Africa. We believe in equal partnerships and we had the pleasure of co-designing EpiGen Ethiopia in a manner that we believe reflects this core organizational value. 





The project is supported by the Global Health EDCTP3 Joint Undertaking and its members.