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Physiotherapist Mulugeta Bayisa on Research4life & community impact in Ethiopia

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Published on Jul 23, 2012

Mulugeta Bayisa is a practising physiotherapist who teaches undergraduate physiotherapy students at the University of Gondar in Ethiopia. He is also studying postgraduate clinical physiotherapy. When he first came to the university as an undergraduate student in 2005, there were few physiotherapy books in the library, and those that were available were over a decade old. Publications describing new research in this fast-changing and rapidly growing field were virtually non-existent. This became an even greater problem in 2008, when Mr Bayisa started teaching.

With limited internet access and the scarcity of current print journals, the college lacked a culture of evidence based practice. In such an environment, it was very difficult to answer the sort of questions -- the why, what, who and how of clinical practice -- that good teaching demands.

And not only did Mr Bayisa and the other physiotherapy staff rely on old publications, but they also took an outdated approach to patient care. "We decided for the patients; we didn't include them in the decision-making process," he says. "It was very difficult for our institution to narrow the gap between what is practised now internationally and what we used to practise, which was often unable to solve our patients' problems."

All this would change, however, in September 2010. That month, three information experts visited to talk to postgraduate students about evidence-based practice and accessing health information through the Leicester-- Gondar Medical and University Link, which supports undergraduate and postgraduate teaching programs.

Crucially, they introduced Mr Bayisa to HINARI. This, he says, marked a great turning point in his life. Using HINARI, Mr Bayisa was able to access original research articles, information on clinical trials, and reviews. Before HINARI, Google was his main source of medical information. But, without access to full journal papers, the information was often vague or incomplete, if it was available at all.

MORE: For full story, read Research4Life's Making a Difference: Stories from the field:
how access to scientific literature is improving the livelihoods of communities around the world at http://ow.ly/criVl .

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