2022 Tessa Jowell Doctoral Fellow Looks to Improve Telehealth in Ethiopia

The 2022 Tessa Jowell Doctoral Fellowship was awarded to Dr. Hailu Tamir Dhufera, a Doctor of Public Health candidate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health who’s research will evaluate Ethiopia’s fledgling telehealth services established in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the COVID-19 pandemic challenging the traditional organization and preparedness of health systems around the world, technology-based solutions have become viable options to address rapidly accelerating challenges around access to essential services. Ethiopia adopted telehealth guidelines in August 2020 to mitigate this challenge. Dr. Dhufera’s research aims to analyze existing telehealth guidelines and policies in Ethiopia, examine the levels of telehealth adoption and existing implementation gaps, and to provide recommendations including policy guidance to improve and expand telehealth implementation in Ethiopia.

Dr. Dhufera is a medical graduate of Ethiopia’s Jimma University and has made extensive contributions to Ethiopia’s health system as a clinician, program officer, and senior advisor working for the Federal Ministry of Health, World Health Organization, and Clinton Health Access Initiative. Prior to coming to Harvard, he served as the Co-Lead of the National Case Management Facility Readiness Task Force in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This caught me by surprise, I really appreciate this opportunity!” Dr. Dhufera said upon being awarded the Fellowship during a Zoom call with Harvard Chan School Dean Michelle Williams. “The opportunity to come to Harvard was a dream come true for me,” he continued “especially growing up in the rural parts of Ethiopia where I saw so many public health challenges.”

Hailu plans to return to Ethiopia after completing his degree to continue working to improve health services in his home country. “This Fellowship will give me the opportunity to explore ways to utilize and improve telehealth,” he said. “Working in the National Case Management Facility Readiness Task Force I saw the impact of COVID on essential health services, so I believe it is time [for Ethiopia] to explore ways to use telehealth in the same way the majority of the world is utilizing it now.”

The Tessa Jowell Fellowship was established in honor of the late Baroness Tessa Jowell and her contributions as a founding Advisory Board member of the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program, as well as her abiding interest in public health and lifelong commitment to public service. Administered by the Harvard Ministerial Program, the Fellowship supports doctoral research in Africa and is available to students enrolled at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Graduate School of Education and the Kennedy School. Dr. Hailu Dhufera is the fourth recipient of the Fellowship since it was established in 2019.

The presentation of the 2022 Tessa Jowell Fellowship can be viewed here: http://https://youtu.be/32nbp1B1E0s