Ethiopia’s Federal Ministry of Health was struggling to meet its goals in 2014 despite impressive gains in the health of its citizens during the previous 20 years. A new minister and his leadership team reached out for ideas by engaging Ethiopia’s regions, districts, and communities—an essential step in a large and ethnically diverse society. They then developed an ambitious transformation program to help realize the government’s national aspirations for health care, including commitments made to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. To bring their vision to fruition, however, the minister and his team had to link priorities to the budget process and use the health budget as a management tool. The ministries of health and finance matched goals and targets to available resources and worked to create actionable plans. And health officials took steps to build cooperation and extend coordination at every level of government in Ethiopia’s federal system. Technical and capacity constraints—plus unexpected political upheaval beginning in late 2015—slowed implementation, but in 2018 a new administration was taking steps to address those challenges.
Gordon LaForge drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in October 2018. Case published January 2019.