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1. National Research Institute of Health (NRIH)

Before the end of the 19th century, Ethiopia did have little knowledge of exercising the modern type of health care practices. People were dependent on natural resources and the various techniques that they had developed to enhance health care facilities. Traditional techniques and herbal remedies were widely used by traditional health care system throughout the country. The delivery of the basics of health care services in Ethiopia was started to wards the end of the 19th century.

“The first health unit to be established on a permanent basis was a Russian hospital. After the battle of Adwa in 1896, Emperor Menilek II had over 3000 wounded soldiers, and he had invited for help from the Russian Red Cross. The first medical mission, consisting of three physicians, four nurses, and several orderlies, arrived and treated wounded soldiers in Harar area
(Ministry of Health,1980:13).”

Members of the Russian Red Cross Missionary, after the accomplishment of their mission, they did not return to their country. Instead, they move to Addis Ababa to provide their health services.

“After the completion of the task , the medical mission arrived in Addis Ababa and established a hospital with 50 beds near the area which is now known as “ Russian street”. It is interesting to note that the mission produced a small booklet of 22 pages in Amharic, which was to serve as a textbook for Ethiopian staff in the Hospital. The Russian missionaries stayed in the country for ten years, and in 1906 the Hospital was closed (Ibid).”

Consequently, the delivery of modern health care services by the Russian medical missionaries initiated Emperor Menilek II and led him to think about the establishment of a hospital in the country.

“In that year, 1906, Menilek II established the first Ethiopian Hospital on the site of the Russian Hospital. At the beginning it had 30 beds. The Hospital has been in operation ever since then on the same site, and even today it is called by the original name “ Menilek II Hospital (Ibid).”

Following the establishment of the first hospital, different missionaries were attracted to come to Ethiopia to provide medical assistance to the society. One of such missionaries was the American missionary, which came in the late 1920s, with different health professionals.

“At that time there were several Christian missions operating in the country, and in addition to their religious and some time educational activities, they often provided health services.

In 1922 another hospital was established in Addis Ababa. An American missionary named Dr. Thomas Lambie collected money and erected a building in the Geullele area…. The hospital had four medical doctors and five nurses as its staff. The hospital was operational until the Italian occupation; however, after the liberation it was converted to a “Medical Research Institute (Ibid).”

When the Italian army invades Ethiopia in 1928 EC, the hospital was also confiscated by the Italian fascist Regime and the name was called “MINSTRO DELA SANITA”. During that period the location of the institution was moved to the place called Arat Killo to the recent premises of Pension Agency.

When the Italian occupation came to an end in 1933 EC, the Ethiopian government took over the Ministry Dela Sanita with all its Ethiopian and foreign staff and named it the “IMPERIAL MEDICAL RESARH INSTITUTE.”

After having the new brand and legal status, the Institute moved to a new place to the Princess Zenebework Haile Slassie School around the recent area of Urael Church. Again in 1936 the Imperial medical Research Institute moved to another place to the “casa popular”, currently houses the branch of the Ethiopian Road Authority.

Finally, in 1943 E.C. the Institute was once again moved to its present premises to Gullele, Addis Ababa. At that time the premises was serving as Teferi Mekonnen Hospital.

In 1944 E.C, the Imperial Ethiopian Government made an agreement with the Institute Pasteur of Paris. That bilateral agreement leads to the creation of an Institute of microbiology which took the name of “Institute Pasteur d’Ethiopie.”
To this effect, a contract was signed by both parties in July 1944 EC. In the contract document there were different articles that can show the roles and responsibilities of the institute.

According to Article I, the new Institute have several departments called, Departments of bacteriological, parasitological and serological analysis, Departments of chemical analyses, Department of preparation of antivariolic vaccine, Department of preparation of antityphus and antitypho-paratyphoidal vaccines, Department of preparation of B.C.G vaccine, Department of antirabic analyses and preparation of antirabic vaccine and Department of preparation of other microbial vaccines.

During that time each year the Institute was providing Anti-viriolic vaccine 3,000,000 doses, Anti tyhus vaccine 400, 000 doses, Anti rabic vaccine 50, 000 doses, BCG vaccine 30,000 doses, Anti typhoparatyphoidal vaccine 10, 000 doses and Yellow fever vaccine 6, 000 doses for free of charge.

In addition to that, the Institute was also engage in research and special studies in bacteriology, parasitological, entomology and chemistry.

In early 1957 EC the bilateral agreement with the Institute Pasteur d’ Paris was terminated and the institution was hand over to the ministry of public health and its name was changed to the Imperial Central Laboratory and Research Institute. At that time the Institute was delivering its former service only by Ethiopian professionals.

In 1977 EC the Institute was again reestablished as “The National Research Institute of Health” by the proclamation No. 271/1985.

Major objectives & Responsibilities of the Institute were; conduct research on major public health problems of the country, provide referral laboratory diagnostic services, provide training in laboratory technology, produce biological substances for prophylactic as well as diagnostic, administer quality control of foods and beverages as well as biological and chemical preparations and supervise regional public health laboratories.