Health Officer: A Physician Assistant Comparable Role in Ethiopia


  • Fitsum Negash


Ethiopia, Physician Assistant


The College of Public Health at Gondar in Ethiopia created the Health Officer training in 1954 to mitigate the concern that there was no training of medical doctors in Ethiopia to meet the needs of health disparities that existed in rural communities throughout the country. Shortly after its development, the need for further training medical doctors (MD) superseded Health Officer (HO) training, putting a temporary stop on the profession. However, it was evident that public health needs could not be met with MDs alone, so the Ethiopian Ministry of Health (MOH) concluded training of Health Officers should continue. Currently, about 100 students per year will graduate with a BSc Health Officer title and move on to advanced degrees such as regular MPH, Masters in Nutrition, Masters in Reproductive health and PHD or Join Integrated innovative Masters in Emergency surgical officers or PHD Tracks. These Officers are trained and equipped with the knowledge, skills, professional ethics, and wisdom that is required to solve and manage the common clinical disorders as well as the preventable public health concerns.

Author Biography

Fitsum Negash

A graduate from the Integrated Emergency Surgery program at the University of Gondar, Fitsum Taye Negash serves the people of his country of Ethiopia in a multitude of ways. While maintaining a position as the current Vice President of the Professional Association of Emergency Surgical Officers of Ethiopia, he has managed to juggle volunteer work with the Ethiopia for Global Youth Network, become a founding member of the World Humanitarian Community, maintain the Communication board position with the International Association of Physician Assistant Educators and be involved in improving safe surgical practices with the Ministry of Health for Ethiopia.

His establishment of Cholera Treatment Centers during the Cholera Epidemic in 2010 to assist in control of the disease as well as his continued work with subsequent Pandemic Preparedness Plans thereafter have made him a role model in the medical community. Fitsum continues to participate in revision of Ethiopian obstetric management protocols and safe surgical practices for hospitals and Health centers across the region; and has been recently awarded an “outstanding clinical practitioner” in the year 2020 by the Global Association of Clinical Officers and Physician Associates (GACOPA) for his creation of an operation service at the primary health care level which was previously limited to hospitals. Fitsum is also a technical working member of MPDSR ( Maternal and Perinatal Death Surveillance and Response)  for both the Ethiopian Public Health institute and Ministry of health , assisting on preparing the Training Manuals for Prevention of Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia. Fitsum is an accredited Master Trainer of Trainers (TOT) on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for Health workers in Ethiopia and works as a Medical Advisory Board Member to Mansaray Foundation in Sierra Leone.




How to Cite

Negash, F. (2021). Health Officer: A Physician Assistant Comparable Role in Ethiopia. Social Innovations Journal, 8. Retrieved from