Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

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This article contains a Habesha name. This person is properly addressed by his given name as Tedros and not as Adhanom—which is the given name of his father.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
ቴዎድሮስ አድሓኖም ገብረኢየሱስ
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Minister of Health, Ethiopia, speaking at the London Summit on Family Planning (7556214304) (cropped).jpg
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Assumed office
29 November 2012
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn
Preceded by Berhane Gebre-Christos (Acting)
Minister of Health
In office
12 October 2005 – 29 November 2012
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
Hailemariam Desalegn
Preceded by Adem Ibrahim
Succeeded by Kesetebirhan Admasu
Member of the
House of People's Representatives
Assumed office
12 October 2005
Constituency Bizet Town, Ganta Afeshum
State Minister for Health
In office
Head of the Tigray Regional Health Bureau
In office
Succeeded by Gebreab Barnabas
Personal details
Born (1965-10-23) 23 October 1965 (age 48)
Asmara, Eritrea
Political party Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front
Other political
Tigrayan People's Liberation Front
Alma mater University of Asmara (BSc)
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (MSc)
University of Nottingham (PhD)
Religion Ethiopian Orthodoxy

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Ge'ez: ቴዎድሮስ አድሓኖም ገብረኢየሱስ) (born (1965-10-23)23 October 1965) is an Ethiopian academic and politician who has served in the government of Ethiopia as Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2012. Previously he was Minister of Health from 2005 to 2012.

Tedros joined the Ministry of Health in 1986, after graduating from the University of Asmara.[1] An internationally recognized malaria researcher,[1] as Minister of Health, Tedros received praise for a number of system-wide health reforms that substantially improved access to health services and key outcomes.[2] Amongst them were hiring and training roughly 35,000 female health extension workers, cutting infant mortality from 123 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2006 to 88 in 2011, and increasing the hiring of midwives.[3] In July 2009, he was elected Board Chair of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for a 2-year term.[4]

In November 2012, Tedros was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Early life and education[edit]

Tedros was born on 23 November 1965 in Asmara (then part of Ethiopia) to Adhanom Gebreyesus, an engineer from Tigray, and Melashu Weldegabir; the family had its roots in the Enderta awrajja of the Tigray Province.[5] As a child, he recalls being "fully cognisant of the needless suffering and deaths" caused by malaria.[4] In 1986 he received his Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Biology from the University of Asmara, and joined the Ministry of Health of the Derg as a laboratory technician.

After the fall of Mengistu Haile Mariam and the disorganisation that followed, Tedros returned to university to pursue a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.[1] He subsequently received a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Community Health from the University of Nottingham in 2000, with his doctoral dissertation being "The effects of dams on malaria transmission in Tigray Region, northern Ethiopia, and appropriate control measures" [6]

Early career[edit]

Head of the Tigray Regional Health Bureau[edit]

In 2001, Tedros was appointed head of the Tigray Regional Health Bureau.[1] As head of the bureau, Tedros was credited with making a 22.3% reduction in AIDS prevalence in the region, and a 68.5% reduction in meningitis cases. He oversaw a campaign to improve ICT access that installed computers and internet connectivity to most of the region's hospitals and clinics, whereas they had not been connected before.[7] Health care staffing was increased by 50%.[7] Immunization for measles was raised to 98% of all children and total immunisation for all children under 12 months was raised to 74%.

The percentage of government funding for the Tigray Regional Health Bureau was increased to 65%, with foreign donors' percentage falling to 35%. Overall, 68.5% of the population was provided with health care services within 10 km.[7]

State Minister for Health[edit]

In late 2003 he was appointed a State Minister (deputy minister) for Health and served for just over a year.[8]

Minister of Health[edit]

Tedros was appointed Minister of Health in October 2005 by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Despite the many challenges faced by the health ministry in terms of poverty, poor infrastructure, and a declining global economic situation, progress in health indicators was considered "impressive" in Ethiopia.[2][3][9] During the period 2005-2008, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health built 4,000 health centres, trained and deployed more than 30,000 health extension workers, and developed a new cadre of hospital management professionals.[9] Furthermore, in 2010, Ethiopia was chosen by the US State Department as one of the US Global Health Initiative Plus countries, where the US will support innovative global health efforts.

Upon assuming office in 2005, Tedros inherited a ministry with a strong vision but little capability to meet that vision.[9] The Ministry was somewhat beholden to a donor community that was vertically focused on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and malaria programs when Tedros first assumed his leadership position with a horizontal, systems-based agenda. With little economic surplus, the country lacked capacity to build its own health systems, and much of the Ethiopian human resources for health had fled the country- for example, there are more Ethiopian doctors in the Chicago metropolitan area than in Ethiopia.[9][10]

As Minister of Health, Tedros was able to form a close relationship with former American president Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.[9] This ground was one of partnership built on engagement of equal partners. Tedros brought to the partnership the leadership to sustain focus on the selected agenda, the political clout to facilitate enabling legislation as needed, and first-hand knowledge of what was needed. President Clinton and the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI) brought to the partnership a commitment to assist Tedros’ priorities and their network, which provided sources money, expertise, and credibility.[9] As a result, Tedros was able to restructure the Ministry in order to better meet its goals.

Millennium Development Goals[edit]

Ethiopia has been noted by the UN as one of the "success stories" in terms of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).[11] Three of the eight MDGs, goals four through six, deal directly with health:

  • Reducing child mortality rates,
  • Improving maternal health,
  • Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

The rate of child deaths fell by 30 percent between 2005 and 2011.[9] Infant mortality decreased by 23 percent, from 77 to 59 deaths per 1,000 births, while under-five mortality decreased by 28 percent, from 123 to 88 per 1,000 births.[12] The number of expectant mothers who delivered with the help of a skilled provider rose from 6 percent in 2005 to 10 percent in 2011, according to the 2011 Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey.[12]


Deaths from malaria fell by more than 50% from 2005-2007.[9] The rate of new malaria admittances fell 54% in the country over the same period, while the number of childhood malaria cases reported at clinics fell by 60%.[12] The Health Ministry conducted the distribution of 20.5 million insecticide-treated bed nets to protect over 10 million families in malaria-prone areas between 2005 and 2008.[12]


Under Tedros, the Ministry of Health was able to turn around Ethiopia’s record of the highest number of new HIV infections in Africa, taking the number down dramatically.[12] The prevalence was reduced from its double digit record to 4.2 in cities and 0.6 in rural areas.[12] According to the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office (HAPCO) said the rate of HIV infection in Ethiopia has declined by 90% between 2002 and 2012, while the rate AIDS-related death has dropped by 53%.[12] The number of people starting HIV treatment increased more than 150-fold during 2005-2008.[9]

The decline in the infection rate has been attributed to the concerted effort of the Ministry of Health in providing medicines and organizing various awareness raising programs.[12] The office has managed to integrate the people in HIV prevention and control activities. The wide range of media campaigns to inform the public about the disease has definitely paid off as it has helped achieve behavioral change. Prevention measures like the use of condoms have shot up starkly with increased awareness on the disease and advertising urging safe sex practices and condom use.[12] The government’s collaboration with local and international governmental and nongovernmental organizations has also positively influenced access to HIV/AIDS related service centers.[12]

Family planning[edit]

Under Tedros' tenure, the unmet need for family planning in Ethiopia has declined, and the contraceptive prevalence rate has doubled in 5 years. Based on the current trends, contraceptive prevalence rates will reach 65% by 2015 by reaching additional 6.2 million women and adolescent girls.[13] Recognising that early childrearing is a major factor in infant mortality, the Ministry of Health is targeting its efforts on adolescent girls (15 to 19 years) who have the highest unmet need for family planning.[13]

Minister of Foreign Affairs[edit]

Tedros with American Secretary of State John Kerry at the 50th Anniversary Summit of the African Union/OAU.

In November 2012, Tedros was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, as part of Hailemariam Desalegn's cabinet reshuffle after he was approved by the EPRDF as party leader (and thus Prime Minister).

Hidase Dam controversy[edit]

In May 2013, controversy intensified over the under-construction Hidase Dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz near Sudan as Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile for the dam's construction. By that time it was more than 22 percent complete, and the dam is expected to produce 6,000 megawatts, which will make it Africa’s largest hydroelectric power plant. The dam is expected to have a reservoir of around 70 billion cubic meters, which is scheduled to start filling in 2014. Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan established an International Panel of Experts to review and assess the study reports of the dam. The panel consists of 10 members; 6 from the three countries and 4 international in the fields of water resources and hydrologic modelling, dam engineering, socioeconomic, and environmental.[14] The panel held its fourth meeting in Addis Ababa in November 2012. It reviewed documents about the environmental impact of the dam and visited the dam site.[15] The panel submitted its preliminary report to the respective governments at the end of May 2013. Although the full report has not been made public, and will not be until it is reviewed by the governments, Egypt and Ethiopia both released details. The Ethiopian government stated that, according to the report, the dam meets international standards and will be beneficial to Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. According to Egyptian government, the report found that the dimensions and size of the dam should be changed.[14][16]

A rendering of the Hidase Dam.

On 3 June 2013 while discussing the International Panel of Experts report with President Mohammad Morsi, Egyptian political leaders suggested methods to destroy the dam, including support for anti-government rebels.[17][18] The discussion was televised live without those present at meeting aware.[17] Ethiopia requested that the Egyptian Ambassador explain the meeting.[19] Morsi's top aide apologized for the "unintended embarrassment" and his cabinet released a statement promoting "“good neighborliness, mutual respect and the pursuit of joint interests without either party harming the other.” Morsi reportedly believes that is better to engage Ethiopia rather than attempt to force them.[17] However, on 10 June 2013, he said that "all options are open" because "Egypt's water security cannot be violated at all," clarifying that he was "not calling for war," but that he would not allow Egypt's water supply to be endangered.[20] Tedros said the dam will be used exclusively for power generation and is being constructed in a way that takes Egypt’s water security concerns into account.[21] On 18 June, Tedros and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr issued a joint statement reiterating "their commitment to strengthen their bilateral relations and coordinate their efforts to reach an understanding regarding all outstanding issues between both countries in a manner of trust and openness building on the positive developments of their relations".[22] Both agreed to review the report of the International Panel of Experts and implement their recommendations, working to defuse the tensions and ease the crisis.[22]


  • Young Investigator of the Year, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene for field study of malaria incidence among children living near dams in northern Ethiopia (1999)
  • Young Public Health Researcher Award, Ethiopian Public Health Association (2003)
  • Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Humanitarian Award, US National Foundation of Infectious Diseases (2011)
  • Stanley T. Woodward Lectureship, Yale University (2012)
  • Honorary Fellowship, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (2012)

Personal life[edit]

Tedros has five children.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d "Biography of the Minister". Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  2. ^ a b The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health. "Participants: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus". Harvard University. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Interview with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Ethiopia’s Minister of Health". USAID Ethiopia. USAID. 
  4. ^ a b Morris, Kellu (24 April 2010). "Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus—a Global Fund for the health MDGs". The Lancet 375 (9724): 1429. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(10)60609-5. 
  5. ^ a b Belete, Pawlos (19 December 2011). "Listening to Health". Capital Ethiopia. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "uk.bl.ethos.312201". The effects of dams on malaria transmission in Tigray Region, northern Ethiopia, and appropriate control measures. Electronic Theses Online Service. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c "Tigray Health Profile 1996". Bureau of Health, Government of the National Regional State of Tigray. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  8. ^ http://www.ministerial-leadership.org/content/ghebreyesus
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bradley, Elizabeth; Taylor, Lauren; Skonieczny, Michael; Curry, Leslie (Fall 2011). "Grand Strategy and Global Health: The Case of Ethiopia". Global Health Governance V (1). Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  10. ^ Roeder, Amy. "Transforming Ethiopia’s health care system from the ground up". HSPH News. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "ETHIOPIA-GHANA: MDG success stories". IRIN. 16 December 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Akalu, Belayneh. "The Health Sector: The Ground Zero for Success in meeting the MDGs". AIGA Forum. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Ethiopia: Speech By Ethiopia's Minister of Health At the London Summit On Family Planning". AllAfrica. 11 July 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  14. ^ a b "INTERNATIONAL PANEL OF EXPERTS ON GERD RELEASES ITS REPORT". Inside Ethiopia. 1 June 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  15. ^ Tesfa-Alem Tekle:Panel pushes study on Ethiopia’s Nile dam amid Egypt crises, Sudan Tribune, December 1, 2012, retrieved on April 12, 2013
  16. ^ "Ethiopia agrees on recommendations of tripartite committee". Egyptian State Information Service. 2 June 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  17. ^ a b c "Caught on tape, Egyptian lawmakers plot nile dam sabotage". New York Amsterdam News. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "STRATFOR: Egypt Is Prepared To Bomb All Of Ethiopia's Nile Dams". Business Insider. 13 October 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  19. ^ "Ethiopia summons Egypt’s ambassador over Nile dam attack proposals". Washington Post. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  20. ^ "Egyptian warning over Ethiopia Nile dam". BBC News. 10 June 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  21. ^ Kortam, Hend (18 June 2013). "Foreign minister returns from Ethiopia and Sudan". Daily News Egypt. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  22. ^ a b "Joint PRESS Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mohamed Kamel Amr and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus". Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Berhane Gebre-Christos
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Preceded by
Adem Ibrahim
Minister of Health
Succeeded by
Kesetebirhan Admasu
Preceded by
Head of the Tigray Regional Health Bureau
Succeeded by
Gebreab Barnabas