Dr Yibeltal Alemu

Senior Lecturer in Health Systems

School of Public Health
Faculty of Medicine
+61 7 334 64722


Dr Yibeltal Assefa Alemu (MD, MSc, PhD): is a Senior Lecturer in Health Systems at the School of Public Health. He is researching on Global Health Systems and Programs, including Health Systems, Primary Health Care, Universal Health Coverage, and Global Health Security. He is currently coordinating postgraduate and undergraduate courses on Health Systems and Global Health & Infectious Diseases. He was a Senior Fellow (Research and Teaching) in Global Health Systems between 2016 and 2019 with the School of Public, the University of Queensland.

Prior to joining the University of Queensland in 2016, he participated in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of health programs and systems at National and Global levels. He led and conducted national surveys, surveillance and evaluations of HIV/AIDS programs in Ethiopia and other sub-Saharan Africa countries. He was involved in the development of implementation and treatment guidelines and plans and frameworks for the monitoring and evaluation of HIV/AIDS at National and Global levels since 2007. He has also gained health systems and disease control program relevant experiences over a range of duties:

2013 – 2016: Deputy Director General, Ethiopian Public Health Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Coordinated national surveys, surveillances and program evaluations on disease control programs, health systems, and nutrition and food science; supervise PhD and MPH students from Europe and Ethiopia; and, examine PhD and MPH theses.

2015 – 2016: Executive Director of the International Institute for Primary Health Care, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Established the International Institute for Primary Health Care, in collaboration with the John Hopkins University-School of Public Health; develop its plan and organizational structure; and recruit its staff.

2010 –2013: Director of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Federal HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office, Ethiopia: Coordinated the development of strategic and operational plans, and design monitoring and evaluation system for the multi-sectoral response of HIV/AIDS in the country, organize review and dissemination workshops.

2008 –2010: Director of Medical Services, Federal Ministry of Health, Ethiopia: Coordinated the design and implementation of health systems and services, hospital and primary health care reform, including emergency medical systems in the country.

2006 – 2008: Head of the Health Programs Department, Federal HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office, Ethiopia: Coordinated the health sector response of HIV/AIDS and other STIs; develop guidelines and training manuals; and coordinate training and mentorship program in the country.

2002 – 2005: Medical Director, Humera Hospital, Ethiopia: Managed the inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes of the hospital.

2001 – 2005: General Medical Practitioner, Humera Hospital, Ethiopia: Provided clinical services at out-patient and in-patient departments.

He has published several academic papers in peer-reviewed journals; led the development and publication of 10 national guidelines and training manuals focusing on HIV/AIDS and TB; and participated in the development of more than five global guidelines on HIV/AIDS and TB. His publications have been contributing significantly in the response against HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia and other resource-limited settings. These publications are also highly referred by other publications, including the WHO guidelines. He has served on key international panels since 2007: the WHO consolidated guidelines for ARV use, 2015; Technical Evaluation Reference Group for the Global Fund (2012-2015); Core Group for the development of the patient monitoring system for the WHO consolidated guidelines for ARV use (2013-14); Advisory group for the development of guidelines for task shifting for HIV treatment (2007).

Dr Alemu has also been an invited plenary speaker in different global health meetings: Surveillance of HIV/AIDS; UNAIDS/WHO; Bangkok, Thailand, 2015; Translating research into Policy and Practice: issues, challenges and recommendations; Ministry of Health of Ethiopia; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2014; The multi-sectoral response for the AIDS epidemic in Ethiopia; Ethiopian Public Health Association, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2012; The role of community health workers for ART delivery: successes and challenges; ITM colloquium, Antwerp, Belgium, 2011; Human resource aspects of ART delivery in resource-limited settings; Geneva health forum, Geneva, Switzerland, 2010; The effect of AIDS programs on the health system: opportunities and challenges; World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2008; Task shifting to scale up ART delivery in Ethiopia: World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2007.

Research Interests

  • Strengthening health systems towards universal health coverage and health security
    - Health systems, - Primary health care, - Global health, - Universal health coverage, - Global health security.

Research Impacts

His research program has evolved from models of care to scale up disease control programs to systemic approaches towards universal health coverage and health security. The introduction and large-scale expansion of disease control program interventions (such as HIV treatment) can have positive or negative effects on health systems' performance, which also impacts the progress towards universal access to other priority interventions. A lack of knowledge on effective, efficient and sustainable models of care, due to the complex interactions between disease control programs (vertical) and health systems (horizontal), and their unintended consequences. I investigated global approaches to scale up disease control program interventions and identified system-wide effects of disease control programs on the health systems and vice-versa. He addressed this through a comprehensive program of health services and systems research, exploring and describing the strengths and limitations of different approaches to scale up interventions (at national, regional and global levels), and their system-wide effects.

His research has contributed to the global debate, agenda setting, programming and policy formulation, and practices towards universal access to services to control diseases of global health significance. The significance of his research is shown by its contributions to global and regional guidelines towards universal access to key program interventions, including: (i) global recommendations and guidelines on task shifting for scaling up HIV treatment; (ii) consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection; (iii) concept note for engaging in the global debates on health systems strengthening; (iv) consolidated strategic information guidelines for HIV; (v) consolidated guidelines for programmatic management of latent TB infection; and (vi) national guidelines to scale up disease control program interventions in Ethiopia and other countries in Africa. The scale up of services to populations and locations would not have been possible without our input on adaptations to recommendations for local contexts in the guidelines, as evidenced by the number of people tested and receiving treatment for HIV and TB over time.

This body of work led to invitations to participate in several presentations, plenaries, and keynote addresses in global, regional and national conferences on disease control and health systems. I joined more than ten advisory committees for the development of global and regional guidelines to scale up interventions towards universal access. The key global advisory committees were: primary health care investment case global working party (Since 2020); WHO’s programmatic management of TB (2016-18); WHO’s consolidated guidelines for ARV use (2013–15); technical evaluation reference group for the Global Fund (2012–15); WHO’s patient monitoring system (2013–14); WHO’s HIV patient retention in care (2011–12); WHO’s Global TB/HIV collaboration (2007–10); and, WHO's task shifting for HIV treatment (2006-7). I have also contributed to regional and national health technical advisory bodies in Africa and Ethiopia.


  • Doctor in Medical Sciences, Vrije Universiteit
  • Master of Science in Disease Control, Free University of Brussels
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Free University of Brussels


View all Publications


  • Master Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision


Book Chapter

  • Ooms, Gorik, Hill, Peter S. and Assefa, Yibelta (2014). Will effective health delivery platforms be built in low-income countries?. The handbook of global health policy. (pp. 441-456) edited by Garrett W. Brown, Gavin Yamey and Sarah Wamala. Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley Blackwell. doi: 10.1002/9781118509623.ch24

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors: