We started the year by processing a license to begin operating our epilepsy clinic, which we successfully registered in line with the many requirements that needed to be met, such as moving to a bigger and more accessible premises and having a dedicated health officer to run the clinic. The new premises have helped us deliver our clinical, diagnostic, and psychological services efficiently. I have witnessed the difference it has made to our patients and staff first-hand. But covering the cost of rent has been a genuine challenge, eating deeply into our reserves. In addition, we faced a shortage of anti-seizure medication throughout the year. We are grateful to the ROW Foundation, who kindly donated Lamotrigine and Keppra.
In February, we celebrated the yearly anticipated International Epilepsy Day, followed by National Epilepsy Week. This week-long program included raising awareness at schools, health centres, press conferences, and training for school nurses and teachers. We also participated in celebrating Africa Epilepsy Week in September.
CareEpilepsy Ethiopia continues to be considered a hub for information and support within our country. As a result, there has been an increase in our service uptake by regional hospitals and centres.
I am delighted to announce the growth in engagement of our national and international partners. We have been discussing strategies to collaboratively improve our epilepsy services, raise awareness about epilepsy and gain advocacy platforms. As a result, we have seen an increase in the number of national neurologists involved in our clinical and training services whilst gaining diaspora neurologists' commitment to our program during 2023. We welcomed the Emmanuel Ability Centre, the Nehemiah Autism Centre, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, the ROW Foundation and the International Bureau for Epilepsy as our new partners and have already begun working together. In addition, we have started a one-year project working with Debre Berhan Comprehensive Referral Hospital, and so far, we have provided epilepsy awareness training for health professionals and epilepsy information leaflets to patients. Mr Amos Action's visit, the Vice President of the International Bureau of Epilepsy Africa Region, made this year a memorable one. He was impressed with our work, and I am happy to announce that we are now a member of the Bureau. This is an achievement for Ethiopia. Two new staff members, Meron and Bezawit, joined our team and will focus on clinical service, community outreach and awareness projects.
We held our first virtual fundraising event on the 17th of July 2022 with the theme of an Ethiopian Food Masterclass given by Chef Yohanis, a renowned Ethiopian chef. His Excellency Mr Teferi Melesse Desta, Ethiopian Ambassador to the UK, was the guest of honour. I would like to express my deep appreciation to Tsion Tesfay, Beth Getachew and Kirubel Tesfay for all the hard work they did in planning and executing the fundraising event. We raised over £1,700, and the money was used to cover the cost of running a full-time clinic and providing medication.
We were delighted to hold our annual Thanksgiving Service at Jupiter International Hotel on the eve of the Ethiopian New Year (10th September). It was an opportunity to show appreciation to our neurologists, youth volunteers, patients, and stakeholders.
On a less welcome note, unprecedentedly high inflation in Ethiopia has pushed up the cost of goods and services, especially for staff and our beneficiaries. In addition, financial support from local donors and companies dropped drastically this year. The Government has required significant contributions from businesses to support infrastructure and other projects, reducing their ability to provide us with support. The effects have been very painful.
2023 offers CareEpilepsy Ethiopia an exciting opportunity to strengthen our projects and another chance for us to get them right. Our priorities are to continue our current programs and to focus on raising funds. Our success is the the community's success. It would not have been possible without the ongoing support of our donors, partners, board members, volunteers, and of course, our staff. I can't wait to see the continued lifesaving work we will do together next year! But for now, I wish you nothing but a fantastic 2023 blessed with health and happiness.
I look forward to updating you next quarter.
Founder and CEO