Localised Evidence and Decision-making (LEAD)

Addressing the need for locally-relevant evidence in public health decision-making

Hosted by LSE’s Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Lead Investigator: Cristin Alexis Fergus
LSE Principal Investigtor: Tim Allen

Despite some work on knowledge translation for use in global health policy, there is a surprising lack of information on what is actually useful from a practice standpoint


In sub-Saharan Africa, local public health practitioners are part of a larger global health system, wherein they implement disease-specific, global health interventions. While these are largely financed by external agents through development assistance, the information and evidence needed for effective decision-making at this level has not been extensively studied. The LEAD Project addresses this need in public health decision-making.

Through new research and an extensive series of workshops the project will create explicit links between local practitioners and the development evidence, identifying local evidence needs and elucidating the complexity of implementation from the local perspective. Using a complex systems approach, this information will influence the methodological choices, inputs and outcomes of modelling intervention implementations, and will inform the exploration of artificial intelligence techniques.



Tim Allen

Tim Allen is Director of the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa and Professor of International Development at LSE. He is currently the PI for the five-year ESRC-funded Centre for Public Authority and International Development.

Email: t.allen@lse.ac.uk


Cristin Alexis Fergus

Cristin is Lead Investigator for the LEAD Project and PhD researcher in the LSE Department of International Development, where she examines aspects of evidence for decision-making within global health.

Email: c.fergus@lse.ac.uk


Melissa Parker

Professor Melissa Parker is an adviser on the LEAD Project. She is a medical anthropologist at the Department of Global Health and Development, LSHTM. Melissa has training in Human Sciences and a DPhil from Oxford University.

Email: melissa.parker@lshtm.ac.uk


Georgina Pearson

Georgina is a research fellow on the LEAD Project and is a Clinical Lecturer in Public Health in the Population Health Research Institute at St George’s, University of London. She also holds a PhD from the LSE Department of International Development.

Email: g.f.pearson@lse.ac.uk


Bianca D’Souza

Bianca is a Policy Fellow on the LEAD Project and holds a DrPH from the LSHTM where she explored decision-making processes for global health policy related to infectious disease interventions. 

Email: B.J.Dsouza@lse.ac.uk



The activities of the LEAD Project are aimed at improving the development and use of locally-applicable evidence for decisions surrounding global health interventions by local public health practitioners, which will ultimately produce better health outcomes for the intended beneficiaries. The LEAD Project focuses on mass drug administration (MDA) for schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths around the African Great Lakes Region, as a representative global health intervention. Fieldwork is focused on the epidemiologically relevant areas of Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda.

The case of MDA is especially important in the context of antimicrobial resistance, with the mass distribution of tablets within child and maternal health for malaria, HIV, neglected tropical disease and chronic disease interventions potentially encouraging the emergence of resistant microbials, among other health concerns.

Background and objectives

Global health has become a multi-billion dollar industry whose product is a set of interventions aimed at decreasing the burden of disease in developing countries. The industry’s emphasis of the MDGs and SDGs on specific disease problems encourage a biomedical, disease-specific approach to tackling ill-health, despite the social-economic-political basis for their persistence.

In recent years, there has been a focus on the utilisation of evidence-based decision-making in global health. While an emphasis on the localisation of this approach is often part of the rhetoric, its realisation has been challenging in practice. The processes of decision-making at different localities are inherently heterogenous and the evidence needs of local practitioners are not well understood.

The LEAD Project addresses these issues with a synergistic approach to evidence development and utilisation between local public health practitioners and researchers at LSE and LSHTM. While there has been some work on knowledge translation for use in global health policy and practice, there is a surprising lack of information on what is actually useful from a practice standpoint, especially from the perspective of local actors. The LEAD Project aims to identify and respond to the needs of local actors by taking advantage of recent technological and computational advances, in particular the processing and identification capabilities of artificial intelligence for application in global health.

The main objectives are to:

  • Understand the needs, limitations and challenges faced by local public health practitioners in terms of evidence for decision-making;
  • Examine the ability to harness new technologies in computational power and artificial intelligence techniques to localise evidence for decision-making, directly in response and adapted to the needs of local public health practitioners.


Please contact Cristin Fergus at c.fergus@lse.ac.uk for more information.







The Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa promotes independent academic research and teaching, open and issue-oriented debate, and evidence-based policy making, in partnership with Africa to bring African voices to the global debate.



The Centre for Public Authority and International Development explores how forms of public authority shape and are shaped by interlocking global challenges with risks and opportunities for development and inclusive growth.



The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is renowned for its research, postgraduate studies and continuing education in public and global health.


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The Institute of Global Affairs aims to maximise the impact of LSE's leading expertise across the social sciences by shaping inclusive and locally-rooted responses to the most important and pressing global challenges.




Bloomsbury Set

The LEAD project is funded by the Bloomsbury SET programme. The Bloomsbury SET (Science, Economics, Technology) programme connects places, people, businesses, ideas and infrastructures to bring forward innovative scientific and technical solutions to help safeguard human health. 



 Photo credit: UN Women