By Tufan Aktas
ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopia (AA) – An Istanbul-educated Ethiopian physician has realized his dream of opening a hospital in his country with his heart “still beating in Istanbul”.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Dr. Jelal Mohammad Hasan said he could not have become a doctor and the owner of a hospital had it not been for Turkey.
Hasan said he spent six years in Istanbul to earn his degree in medicine at Istanbul University, one of Turkey’s oldest and biggest.
Born and raised in a poor family in Ethiopia’s Adama town, Hasan's life changed for good after receiving a grant from the Islamic Development Bank's Scholarship Program, and now he takes pride, and justifiably so, of serving his own people.
“I used to study for at least six hours every day. If I had taken a job like some of the Turkish students, I couldn’t have graduated. All my friends and teachers helped me very much,” said Hasan.
He describes the time he spent there as “unforgettable”.
“The thing I miss most is Istanbul. I recommend all my friends to go and get education there,” Hasan said, sitting in his office in the five-story building of the hospital that he heads, which serves hundreds of patients every day.
He emphasized that Istanbul had a place for every person coming from a different cultural background.
"I can’t forget the days that I walked from the university to Taksim and ate fish on the banks of the Golden Horn,” he fondly reminisced, adding that he was not a jealous person normally, but he always envied Istanbulites.
After returning to his country in 2010, Hasan decided to set up a small clinic, which he ran for five years.
“At the beginning, I myself would clean the clinic. Some people were taken aback, asking ‘why are you cleaning the clinic; aren't you a doctor?!’ My wife also painted the walls and helped with everything,” he said.
Once he had enough experience and savings, he established the Afran Hospital in Addis Ababa in 2015. The hospital provides treatment in the fields of gynecology, internal diseases, general surgery, and pediatrics, and it also has an emergency ward.
Hasan mingles with the Turkish people who live and work in Ethiopia. For him, it is a shortcut to experiencing Istanbul while still in Addis Ababa.
Many Turkish expats, in return, prefer to be treated by Hasan and consult him about their health problems.
Hasan thinks that Turkey should open a big hospital in Addis Ababa.
“This is the capital of Africa,” he said. “So, Turkey should open a hospital and show its rich experience in the health sector.”
Hasan dreams of opening a state-of-the-art hospital in Ethiopia one day.
“Ethiopians deserve it,” he said.