Research and Innovation:

Building Global Partnerships for Research and Innovation Through Grand Challenges Ethiopia

Ethiopia has largely achieved the MDG targets through a robust primary health care approach. To consolidate this achievement, the Government of Ethiopia finalized a 20-year envisioning exercise aimed at achieving health-related targets comparable to the best performing middle-income countries by 2035. The country targets are also coherent with the SDG targets, particularly ending all preventable deaths of mothers and children by 2030.

The velocity of the current progress is not sufficient to attain bold and ambitious targets stipulated in Ethiopia’s targets and SDGs. As a consequence, it is of paramount importance to accelerate existing efforts by stimulating domestic innovation and research. It will be particularly important to measure the possible population-level impacts and implementation cost of early stage innovations based on empirical data and mathematical modeling in order to determine which innovations are best suited to transition to scale.

In order to stimulate new innovations within Ethiopia, swiftly import relevant innovations that have been developed elsewhere in the world and ensure the worldwide dissemination of domestic research and best practice information, the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia has established Grand Challenges Ethiopia (GCE). The programme focuses on funding innovations in maternal and newborn health, early childhood development and health services. It will focus on funding innovations demonstrating clear linkages to desired population-level impacts under Ethiopia’s Health Sector Transformation Plan and which are tailored to pastoralist communities within the country. Innovations that demonstrate sustained contributions to ending preventable maternal and child deaths will be transitioned to national or sub-national scale.

Importantly, the innovation and research efforts of Grand Challenges Ethiopia will tap into surging momentum for innovation at global level. Grand Challenges Ethiopia plans to harness global and regional partnerships—for example by engaging with the Every Woman Every Child Innovation Marketplace, Saving Brains and other global initiatives —to share and import best practices, stimulate research and innovation and eventually ground all health interventions in innovation. Such investments will help Ethiopia attain the Global Strategy’s “Thrive” objectives, as well as its own Health Sector Transformation Plan objectives.

Source: Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia 2015. The Health Sector Transformation Plan (HSTP), 2015/16-2019/20. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.