Contribution of the World Health
Organization/ the special program
for research and training in tropical disease
(WHO/TDR’s) in institution building: lessons
from Ethiopia

Mirgissa Kaba, Kalkidan Solomon, Yayehyirad Kitaw, Derbew Fikadu, Berhe, and Alemseged Abdissa

Background World Health Organization/Tropical Disease Research (WHO/TDR) has enduring investment in transfers of skills critical to sustaining resilient health research systems through postgraduate training, clinical research and development fellowship (CRDF), bioethics, and grants to neglected tropical disease research. TDR has a long history of partnership with Armauer Hansen Research Institute (AHRI) in Ethiopia. The collaboration started with individuals and lead to institution survival and success. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the impact and lessons learned of TDR initiatives in Ethiopia.


This study was guided by the ‘TDR Impact Pathways’. A total of thirteen in-depth, and five key informant interviews were conducted with individuals who are currently working in Addis Ababa, Gondar, Jimma Universities and AHRI. In addition to the interviews, reports, written communications and publications were reviewed. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, inductively coded, and analyzed thematically. The results were presented following the themes with supportive verbatim quotes.


TDR’s seed grants, training opportunities and technical support catalyzed individual, institutional and national research capacity in Ethiopia. This is a useful indication of how long-term collaboration between individuals could have broader institutional implication as evidenced from the TDR-AHRI complementary partnership.

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