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Our research portfolio includes a range of contrasting topics of key current social significance (HIV/AIDS; health system development and governance; human resources for health; reproductive health; mental health and psychosocial well being of communities affected by migration, conflict and disaster). Each research theme is characterised by the unifying approach of the Institute: to combine the best of international academic knowledge with appropriate local experience and perspective to produce research evidence that is valid, meaningful and relevant. We often achieve this in the challenging contexts of instability and conflict.

Current Programmes:

ReBUILD: Research for Building Pro-Poor Health Systems in the aftermath of conflict

Barbara McPake, Sophie Witter, Suzanne Fustukian, David Newlands

In countries affected by conflict, health systems often break down. Emergency assistance is often the main course of care. As recovery begins, so should the process of rebuilding health systems. However, in practice, not enough is known about how effective different approaches are. The ReBUILD Consortium is a research partnership funded by the UK Department for International Development.

We collaborate with partners in Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zimbabwe to explore how we can strengthen policy and practice related to health financing and staffing. In health financing, we are investigating how different financing strategies affect the poorest households. Our work on human resources studies, different management innovations and opportunities for reallocating roles among health professionals.

ReBUILD Website


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Evaluation of Child Friendly Spaces (World Vision International)

Carola Eyber of IIHD is conducting research on behalf of World Vision International which focuses on child friendly spaces (CFS) and the development of effective tools for the evaluation of such interventions. CFS is a widely used tool to help protect children in emergencies and is used by a growing number of agencies in an increasing range of contexts and emergencies. This project will investigate the effectiveness of CFS operating with internally displaced children in Eastern Congo. Ultimately, this work should help improve the use of CFS to protect children from abuse, exploitation and violence.

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Examining the Cost Effectiveness of Community Health Worker (CHW) Programmes in Selected Low Income Countries

IIHD has been successful in securing £120,000 from the Global Health Workforce Alliance to examine the cost-effectiveness of community health worker (CHW) programmes in selected low income countries.

The programme of work, undertaken with partners from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM), and the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) Amsterdam involves a comprehensive review of the literature on cost and effectiveness of CHWs, mapping of CHW programme design features and implementation across six countries that are part of the REACHOUT Consortium led by LSTM, and development of a generalised cost-effectiveness model to examine community-based CHW-led interventions for maternal and child health in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Indonesia. Ijeoma Edoka is leading the health economics team undertaking primary data collection and analysis; other researchers involved from IIHD include Elvis Gama, Sophie Witter, Karina Kielmann, and Barbara McPake.

Start Date: August 2013

Funder: Global Health Workforce Alliance

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Loss in childbearing in Malawi: Interpretations and blame

Bregje de Kok

This qualitative study focuses on local interpretations of different forms of loss in childbearing in Malawi: maternal mortaility; induced and spontaneous abortions; perinatal mortality.

Using discourse analysis, the project will document how communities and practitioners interpret loss of the (unborn) child and mother; how these interpretations assign responsibility, blame, and entitlement to care and how they may affect the use and provision of care. Read more...

Start Date: November 2012

Funder: Independent Social Research Foundation

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Well being, mental health and social connectedness for refugees

Alison Strang, Rebecca Horn

Levels of social connection along with the types of connections that people have are widely recognised as major contributors to health, mental health and varied aspects of well being. This research programme is developing participatory tools for mapping the social connections of communities and individuals affected by conflict. The aim is to develop simple approaches that can be used by communities themselves to identify the strengths and gaps in their social resources.

We are working with humanitarian agencies to use this approach in the evaluation of psychosocial programmes (Mercy Corps, Terres des homes, UNICEF).

We are currently undertaking a study to explore the relationship between social connection or isolation and understandings of mental health issues amongst refugees in north and east Glasgow.

Start Date: April 2012

Funder: Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS

From 2001 Alison undertook the ‘Indicators of Integration’ research programme on behalf of the UK government and continues to explore the dynamics of community integration with asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland, the UK and across the world. Subsequent research has used the framework to examine refugee integration both cross culturally and longitudinally. Alison is leading on the research programme above, developing tools for measuring community and individual social connection using participatory approaches that have cross cultural validity and can be used to generate data for communities, researchers and policy makers ( She is involved in working closely with service providers, community groups and policy makers, particularly in Scotland to support work with refugees and asylum seekers in a advisory capacity to the Scottish Refugee Council and through research and consultancy. Alison currently chairs ‘Refugees in Scottish Communities’, the Scottish Government led review of refugee integration policy and practice.

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PhD Students

Here, we regularly feature some of the exciting projects undertaken by our current research degree students.  Read more...

Technical Assistance


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