Partners’ HPSR report – 2021



Four HPSR-related institutions were identified in Ethiopia – two in the capital, Addis Ababa, and one each in Jimma and Gondar. Three are universities, while the fourth, the Ethiopian Public Health Institute, is an independent research centre.

There has been a growing focus on HPSR in Ethiopia, with HPSR now helping to shape most of Ethiopia’s health programmes at the national level. Its influence can be seen in the Health Sector Transformation Plan II, which prioritizes evidence-informed decision-making and the use of research in the coming years.

There is, however, a shortage of the PhD-trained researchers needed to take a lead in this area. In addition, data issues make it difficult to estimate the total level of funding for HPSR, but estimates suggest that donors provide almost half of all funding for research and training.

Institutions by type

Knowledge generation 

More and more HPSR is being undertaken across the four identified research institutions in Ethiopia. The University of Gondar alone supported or undertaken some 27 embedded implementation research projects between 2018 and 2020 in the areas of immunization (10 projects), compassionate and respectful care services (6 projects) and health information systems (11 projects). Research projects have generated a growing number of reports, rising from 103 in 2018 to 153 in 2020 – more than half of them from the University of Gondar.

Average number of reports produced per institution each year in Ethiopia and overall

Engaging policy-makers and the public 

HPSR has gained greater policy attention in Ethiopia and has influenced most of Ethiopia’s health programmes at the national level. Its influence can be seen in the Health Sector Transformation Plan II, which was launched in February 2021 and prioritizes evidence-informed decision-making and the use of research for the next decade. Both are seen as essential for the achievement of the country’s health-related ambitions.

The number of meetings with policy-makers each year increased between 2018 and 2020, rising from 28 to 37 (with the Ethiopian Public Health Institute accounting for the vast majority of these). The number of newspaper articles related to HPSR reported by these institutions has remained fairly steady since 2018, falling only slightly: from 18 to 16.

Average number of meetings held with policy-makers per institution each year in Ethiopia and overall

Average number of media articles published per institution each year in Ethiopia and overall

Academic and institutional capacity 

An embedded approach to HPSR – which ensures that researchers work with decision-makers, practitioners and communities – has become routine since the establishment of a technical support centre for embedded implementation science at the University of Gondar in 2010. New HPSR academic programmes are opening, and existing programmes are being revised to ensure that they all incorporate key HPSR competencies. At present, four institutions train HPSR-related graduates and the number of HPSR faculty members has increased, rising from 41 in 2018 to 65 in 2020. The number of participants in HPSR courses has more than doubled, from 407 in 2018 to 894 in 2020.

A total of 35 Master’s students graduated in the period 2018-2020. However, there were only two graduates at PhD level. There are just 11 PhD students currently working in fields related to HPSR, including six who have an opportunity for student exchange with universities in Norway. There is no sandwich programme. Given the shortage of HPSR graduates in Ethiopia, there is an urgent need to train more PhD students so that they can take a lead on HPSR research and programming at the national level.

Total number of HPSR faculty and staff

Total number of participants in HPSR-related short courses

HPSR financing

Ethiopia’s had a national health research budget of nearly US$ 11 million in 2020.

Most programmes have a budget for research, some in relation to monitoring and evaluation. The total amount of funding for HPSR from all sources was estimated to stand at around US$ 13.1 million in 2020, with the majority being channelled to the Ethiopian Public Health Institute. While it is difficult to determine the precise level of HPSR funding in Ethiopia for 2018-2020 because of incomplete data, the national budget category of the line-item budget can be considered and aggregated to estimate a research and training budget that spans funding from the government and other partners. The resulting share of the budget for training and research is estimated to stand at around 3.5% of the national health budget total allocation. The share from donors is estimated to be around 49% of the total budget for research and training.

Total institutional expenditure

Credits and disclaimers

Partners’ health policy and systems research report, 2021


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