Dr. Lia Tadesse: Former Ethiopian Health Minister to Head Harvard Leadership Program

Dr. Lia Tadesse Gebremedhin. (Photo: Kent Dayton/Harvard)

Tadias Magazine

Updated: March 12, 2024

New York (TADIAS) – Dr. Lia Tadesse emerged as a pivotal leader in Ethiopia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, assuming her role on March 12, 2020, the day after the virus was classified as a global health emergency. In the face of adversity, she swiftly moved to announce the country’s first confirmed case of coronavirus and outlined the various measures her office was implementing to mitigate the emerging crisis, showcasing her adept leadership. Dr. Lia is credited for approaching the pandemic not only as a challenge but also as a chance to improve the nation’s healthcare infrastructure. “We aimed to respond not just in the short-term, but also for the long-term,” she explained. “It was an opportunity to bolster the entire health system.”

Ethiopia’s proactive measures, including the expansion of the public health workforce and enhanced access to critical care, proved instrumental in mitigating the virus’s impact.

This month, Harvard University announced that Dr. Lia would lead its Ministerial Program, a collaborative initiative involving the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dr. Lia, an OB/GYN by training, brings a wealth of experience to her new role, having previously served as Ethiopia’s Deputy Minister of Health, a provost at St. Paul’s Hospital Millennium Medical College in Addis Ababa, and a program director for various international maternal and child health projects. Before assuming her role at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Lia Tadesse held the position of Program Director at the University of Michigan’s Center for International Reproductive Health Training (CIRHT) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. During her tenure, she effectively collaborated with various institutions in Ethiopia and Rwanda to enhance the quality of reproductive health services and training.

Reflecting on her extensive leadership experience, Dr. Lia emphasized the importance of visionary leadership in bringing about meaningful transformation. I” know that the ability to make positive change is related to how strong a leader is,” she said. “Anything I can contribute to improving leadership around the world truly excites me.”

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