Addis Ababa University’s assessment of Dr. Frank Ashall’s views

The intention of this short text is to provide facts that help to rectify the deceptive information on Addis Ababa University and Ethiopia authored by Dr. Frank Ashall and disseminated by the Lancet. Dr. Frank Ashall was once an employee of the University where he worked in the school of medicine for two years as a lecturer in biochemistry. Prior to his employment he had served in the same department as a volunteer with VSO. According to available information he resigned his job because he could not get along with his students. This may be confirmed from one of his emails he issued on February 19, 2017 soon after he left Ethiopia.  In that email Dr.  Frank Ashall speaks about some students as having harassed him since he left Addis Ababa University and reminds that students should be controlled. He refers to a student as one of the paid “government informants who are well known in AAU and all universities”.

Addis Ababa University expresses its regret that Dr. Frank Ashall has a rather incorrect picture of our University and country.  Addis Ababa University is an institution of higher education whose basic mission is educating and training professionals in various fields of knowledge, doing research and providing community services. It is not a political organization advancing party politics.

This being the fact, students and staff members of the University, like all citizens, may or may not belong to any political party. It is their democratic right as citizens to assume the stand they choose. It is naive to brand students and staff members as spies or anything merely because they have a stand one does not support. It is therefore no wander that one of the students Dr. Frank Ashall has accused of misbehavior in his email has called him ‘racist’ because the professor himself has referred to the student as a ‘government informant’.

In connection with that, it would be good to note that students who join the school of medicine at AAU are recruited and assigned based on the results they score in the higher education entrance examination. No other criterion connected with economic status, social position or political stand is used to select candidates for the school. What is more, it is witnessed by many that graduates of the school are accomplished professionals well known for their outstanding performance wherever they may be.

In addition, in his February 26, 2017 essay that appeared on the Lancet, Dr. Frank Ashall presents the truth about Ethiopia in a rather misleading way. He undermines all facts about the good efforts the country has made to promote healthcare and the encouraging progress achieved. For example, he disregards Ethiopia’s endeavor to eradicate smoking from the country in line with the WHO convention it has ratified. It would be unfair for a man of Dr. Frank Ashall’s education and experience to distort the truth only to express his personal opposition to Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s candidacy for Director General of WHO.

As we all know, Ethiopia is located in a volatile region of Africa where it faces a lot of challenges. Despite these challenges, however, it has been able to make a commendable advance in economic growth and the maintenance of peace and security. This is witnessed by all genuine individuals who stand for the truth.

Therefore, the comments and generalizations Dr. Ashall has made are not founded on objective realities. They could only be reflections of his personal grudge against individuals who may have challenged his personal opinions and negative attitude about AAU and Ethiopia. His comments and criticisms on the University and the country are biased and intended to damage our international image and hence are unacceptable.