(Adapted from an article published in What’s Happening in HSPA, Winter-Spring 2012)
Damen Hailemariam PhD ’96 is primarily interested in how traditional institutions address gaps in the offerings of the formal health care market. His dissertation title was The Effect of Extended Family Support on the Demand for Health Care in Ethiopia, in which he also examined the capacity of indigenous social insurance to serve as an alternative financing mechanism for health care. In particular, he studied the ability of Eders, traditional Ethiopian burial societies, to face the growing challenge of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia.
After leaving the Health Services & Policy Analysis (HSPA) program at UC Berkeley, he was awarded a Rockefeller postdoctoral fellowship enabling him to further study the effects of HIV/AIDS on social institutions. In recent years, he has increasingly investigated the scope and impacts of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia. Since returning to Ethiopia, he has continued his research and also taken on increasing responsibilities at Addis Ababa University (AAU), the country’s premier university. He is currently a full professor in the School of Public Health at AAU and has shouldered administrative responsibilities in his role as associate dean of the College of Health Sciences, in which the School of Public Health is housed.
He was the primary force behind the 2003 creation of a doctoral program in public health at AAU and drew on the HSPA program for the design of the curriculum. As Ethiopia has gone through a dramatic expansion of its tertiary education system in the past few years, going from three to 31 universities, graduates of this public health doctoral program are in high demand. He also advises doctoral and master’s level students in the areas of public health systems and health financing.
He recently served as president of the Ethiopian Public Health Association for four years, during which time he secured CDC funding to pursue investigation of HIV prevention strategies and to carry out translational research and to train health workers. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Ethiopian Journal of Health and Development.