A prominent physician and educator, Professor Edemariam Tsega passed away on Jan 1, 2018, in Hamilton, Canada where he lived and served in the medical school of McMaster University for more than twenty three years. He was 80. “A light in the darkness that will be remembered always. Thank you for being yourself and for lighting the torch of eagerness for knowledge in our young hearts. End one big era of giants,” Avi Yitzhac, one of his former students wrote on Facebook.
Prof. Edemariam is often credited for having single-handedly introduced a postgraduate program in internal medicine at Addis Ababa University. He served his country in his field for over forty years, first joining the Addis Ababa University’s department of Internal Medicine located at Tikur Anbessa in 1972, at a time when most of the staffs were foreigners. Over the next 22 years, Edemariam dedicated himself and put his effort toward training the next generation of medicine professionals, often at the patient’s bedside rather than in the lecture hall. He would have an evidence cart on his ward rounds, and students were encouraged to access evidence on patients as they attended to them. He published several papers and authored a book, “A Guide to Writing Medical Case Reports,” which has become the reference book of the medicals school. In 1981, aged 43, he became professor of medicine, consequently served as head of department of Internal medicine for more than fifteen years and dean of faculty of medicine Addis Ababa University from 1992 until 1994.
His students described him as a humble, compassionate and kind individual. “He held students and patients with great respect, was good at transmitting knowledge, encouraged his students to challenge him,” Dr. Asefa Jejaw told VOA Amharic.
“Professor Edemariam was the one who led and worked hard for the establishment of the current cancer centre at the Black Lion Hospital by consistent negotiation with the International Automatic Energy to secure the necessary funding,” Workneh Kassie said. “If he had not made available the necessary information required for the approval of the project and budget, the centre might have not materialized,” he added.
Born to his father Aleka Tsega Teshale and his mother Yetemeg Mekonen in Gondar, Edemarim did his primary education at Haile Selassie I school in Gondar and his secondary education at Haile Selassie I secondary school in Addis Ababa. He graduated from university college of Addis Ababa with bachelor’s degree in science in 1961 and then he joined McGill University where he earned his medical degree in 1965. He studied at London school of hygiene and tropical medicine in 1968. After becoming professor of medicine, he obtained PhD in Clinical Virology from Lund University, Sweden.
He is survived by his wife, Frances Lester and by his children Aida, Naomi, Yohannes and Yodit, and grandfather of Rahel.