AKITV-Against Cancer, a Norwegian philanthropic organization that promotes physical fitness exercises as part of coping mechanism against cancer, has named athletics legend Haile Gebreselassie as its good will ambassador.
During the Ethiopian and Norwegian health and education professionals conference held for two days in Addis, Laila Bokhari, state secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway told The Reporter that appointing Haile as a cancer activist both in Ethiopia and beyond has been measured as vital compared to the acceptance of the sportsman and the level of influence the runner has in the world of athletics.
“Having people like Haile with us onboard is very important. I can inspire people in politics and about the works of my government. But he has a very different power of inspiring many young people. He is a star not only to Ethiopia and his colleagues but also to tomorrow’s leader of the world”, the state secretary said.
Days after assuming the presidency of the Ethiopian Athletics Federation, the Olympic gold medalist Haile is now joining the cancer campaigners’ team in Oslo. Haile told The Reporter that as a responsible citizen and as an Adidas representative he said he is actively working against the spread of cancer in Ethiopia and beyond. Attributing Grete Waitz, a Norwegian marathoner and the only nine time New York Marathon winner who died of cancer back in 2011, Haile said that Adidas and AKTIV against cancer have been collaborating since then. And currently, as representative of Adidas and as a good will ambassador to the fight against cancer, he is expected to promote physical exercises to fight the disease.
Athlete Grete Waitz was able to cofound AKTIV-Against Caner to help others struggling to survive cancer. According to the information AKTIV posted on its website, diagnosed with cancer in 2005, Grete quickly got on board with the idea of helping others affected by the disease. She co-founded AKTIV Against Cancer in November 2007 and became an ambassador.
Retired from running, Haile is currently active in various business and leadership activities in sports.
In addition to the effort to fight cancer, the Government of Norway as part of its exchange program is considering to train medical practitioners in Ethiopia. According to state secretary Bokhari, though there are reputed physicians in Ethiopia they need further trainings. “Ethiopia has some very good health professionals but they need more and important to have them more around the country”. She also mentioned that there are Ethiopia born Norwegian professionals who are in Ethiopia to help train others. “Some Norwegians who were born here have come back here and are working as medical professionals”.
During a two day conference on Monday and Tuesday, the KF Norway (Fredskorpset) and Oso University together with the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Ethiopia held educational and health related meetings. KF Norway is known to provide exchange programs for professionals from Ethiopia. The agency targets the country as one of the 12 prioritized nations for the exchange programs in the world.
Asked about the political and human rights situations in Ethiopia, the state secretary said that Ethiopia has to show political maturity in times like the current situation where significant number of discontents have been witnessed. “I think in time like this it is important that Ethiopia shows us the example of being a matured country of democracy”. She said stability is essential in the country so that professionals such as medics can work freely in the country.