Our History

The idea of establishing the International Institute for Primary Health Care in Ethiopia grew out of the vision of the former health minister, and current chief executive officer, Rollback Malaria Partnership, H.E. Dr. Kestebirhan Admassu, who is a strong advocator of the movement of “Health for All through Primary Health Care”.

Driven by the significant progress in the expansion of the primary health services both in the urban and rural areas of Ethiopia, H.E. Dr. Kesetebirhan envisioned the Institute to serve as a conduit for the promotion, learning and researching of strategies adapted by Ethiopia to the rest of the world.

In 1992, a new health system was founded in Ethiopia after a critical examination of the nature, magnitude and root causes of the prevailing health problem under a centralized health system. In 1993 the government published the country’s first health policy. Major aspects of this policy focus on fiscal and political decentralization.

Since 1997, Ethiopia has implemented successive health sector development plans (HSDP’s). Following the development of HSPDs, Ethiopia has employed a numbers of strategies that enabled the application of an effective framework for improving health in the country. 

Later, preventive, promotive and curative components of health services in the country showed remarkable improvement, meeting equitable and quality health components of health care for all parts of the population.

In 2003, the FMOH launched the Health Extension Program, an innovative health service delivery model, in four big agrarian regions, and then expanded to pastoral communities in 2006, and to urban areas in 2009.

The Health Extension Program, a flagship program of the Government of Ethiopia, developed by Dr. Tedros Adhanom, former Ministry of health, current Director General of the World Health Organization, aimed at providing essential health promotion, disease prevention and basic curative health care services in communities where higher-level primary health care facilities are not readily accessible. 

The introduction and full implementation of the Health Extension Program since 2003 has accelerated national progress toward achieving the health-related MDGs.


In September 2013, two years ahead of the deadlines, FMOH and UNICEF jointly announced that Ethiopia has successfully reduced the under-5 mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2012. Significant progress was achieved in reducing levels of childhood malnutrition as articulated in MDG 1.

MDG 5, improving maternal health, was almost reached, with a decline in maternal morality of 72%, versus the goal of 75%, and the percentage of mothers obtaining a delivery by a skilled provider increased 6-fold between 1995 and 2016.

The prevalence rate of modern contraceptive use increased from 6% in 2000 to 35% in 2016. MDG 6, revering the spread of HIV and tuberculosis, was also reached. The number of new HIV infections declined by 90%, and the number of AIDS-related deaths by 53%. Between 1990 and 2015, the tuberculosis incidence and mortality rate declined by 48% and 72%, respectively.

“Health for All through Primary Health Care”