Hiwot Yeshitila 24/7 in mission to fight breast cancer in Ethiopia

Straight to the point: Hiwot Yeshitila - committed to the Else Kröner Cancer Center in Ethiopia as a breast surgeon.

In this interview, Hiwot Yeshitila shares her first experiences and challenges in the Else Kröner Cancer Center in Ethiopia and which challenges she will tackle in the coming years.


Ms. Hiwot Yeshitila, where are you from?

Hiwot Yeshitila:  I am from Tikur Anbessa Specialized Hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Where did you study?

I completed both my undergraduate and postgraduate studies at Addis Ababa University, College of Health Science Tikur Anbessa Specialized Hospital.

Breast cancer specialists are very rare in Ethiopia.

How did you get into your job?

There are not too many specialties in our country, especially in the field of surgery. I love surgery and there are many patients who need this service, especially women. I was also inspired by my mentor Dr. Endale, whose work has changed the lives of many women. 

Who has influenced you the most in your life?

My parents, especially my father has a big influence in my life.

What was your proudest success in your profession?

To become a surgeon who can solve the health problems of many women with low socioeconomic status in my country. 

What do you do as a balance to your very demanding work?

I am not actually very good in this area, it's a work on progress, but I try to spend one day a week on family time.

Ms. Hiwot Yeshitila, you have been with the Else Kröner Cancer Center in Ethiopia for around 20 months now.

How have you experienced the first period?

It was a new area, with new people and a new facility. It was an eyeopener to how big oncology problems are for women in this country and how much we can do. It showed me that the little things we are doing really can make a difference.

What were your first challenges?

Creating awareness of the population, attracting clients for screening and breast examination, shortage of space and some consumables .

One of your areas of work is breast cancer surgery.

What do you think are the most urgent questions in this field?

(1) creating greater awareness in the community; and (2) creating an easily accessable and affordable health care system that promotes breast halth.

What is your professional vision?

I would like to become an excellent breast and endocrine surgeon who can revolutionize the image of the health system in treating women's cancer.

What would you like to change in the field of health and cancer diagnosis in Ethiopia? 

There should be well-trained health personnel (nurses/health officers/general practitioners) for breast cancer in Else Kröner Cancer Center with its individual centers.

Health policy makers should create a faster referral system from the primary health care sector to hospitals with breast cancer care. Education is the key word. We need more breast surgeons who can treat any breast disease.

I wish you all the best for your future work, thank you for the interview

Dr. Antje Henke