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Principal Associate, International Development

Hailu Zelelew is an economist with 30 years of experience in health financing/economics, health insurance, health policy processes, health systems strengthening and economic development. He has worked on development planning and economic cooperation; policy analysis and development; rural development; program design and management; maternal, newborn and child health; family planning and reproductive health; HIV/AIDS; and capacity building. His financial expertise includes health program costing, resource tracking, health financing policy, health insurance, public financial management, and governance. He also has extensive experience with monitoring, evaluation and research.

As a health policy and health economics advisor at Abt for more than a decade, Zelelew provides technical assistance to projects and host country counterparts in health insurance, health financing and health systems strengthening, including access to and provision of priority health services for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and maternal and child health programs. He leads data collection and analysis in health financing and health systems that have been improving access to and use of health care services—with strong financial protection—by vulnerable groups including women, children, and economically disadvantaged groups.

Before coming to Abt, Zelelew served as reproductive health coordinator, department head, policy analyst and program and monitoring officer for the Christian Relief and Development Association (CRDA) consortium of local and international NGOs in Ethiopia. He led reproductive health and HIV/AIDS projects and activities, providing technical assistance and backstopping support for implementing NGOs, including monitoring and supervision of projects. He previously served as technical lead and coordinator for World Vision International/Ethiopia (WVI) on one of Ethiopia’s largest area development programs.

At both organizations, he worked on the design and implementation of a wide range of integrated development programs that also focused on improving the life and well-being of women, children and vulnerable groups.

Zelelew started his career as a civil servant in the Ethiopian government for the then-Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.


  • Health financing and health economics
  • Health finance policy analysis, and health financing policy processes including health financing reform
  • HIV/AIDS costing and strategic planning
  • Rural development program designing and implementation
  • Policy evidence generation and advocacy for policy use including conducting of national health accounts
  • Health insurance including community-based health insurance

Key Projects:

  • Senior Health Finance Advisor/Deputy Project Director, Essential Services for Health in Ethiopia (ESHE-II) Project
  • Health Financing Technical Advisor, Health Sector Financing Reform Project
  • Country Manager and Technical Health Finance Expert, Health System 2020 Project
  • Country Manager and Technical Health Finance Advisor, HFG Project
  • Health Financing Technical Advisor, System for Better Health (SBH) Zambia
  • Technical Health Finance Advisor for USAID Ethiopia Health Financing Improvement Program, and Transform: Primary Health Care Project


  • Zelelew, H., Blanchet, N., and Won, A. April 2018. Expanding Coverage through Health Insurance: An Ongoing Process. HFG Series: Advances in Health Finance & Governance. Bethesda, MD: Health Finance and Governance Project, Abt Global
  • Zelelew, H., June 2015. Community Health Financing as a Pathway to Universal Health Coverage: Synthesis of Evidence from Ghana, Senegal, and Ethiopia. Bethesda, MD: Health Finance and Governance Project, Abt Global
  • De, S., and Zelelew, H. January 2009. National Health Accounts and Public Expenditure Reviews: Redundant or Complementary Tools? Bethesda, MD: Health Systems 20/20 Project, Abt Global Inc.
  • Nakhimovsky, S., Langenbrunner, J., White, J., Vogus, A., Zelelew, H., and Avila, C. October 2014. Domestic Innovative Financing for Health: Learning from Country Experience. Bethesda, MD: Health Finance & Governance Project, Abt Global Inc.
  • Zelelew, Hailu. 2012. Health Care Financing Reform in Ethiopia: Improving Quality and Equity. Health Systems 20/20, Abt Global Inc., USAID
Hailu Zelelew