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The Politics of Global Health

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The Department’s Global Health research theme comprises the work of Tim Allen, Stuart Gordon, Shirin MadonPhilipa Mladovsky, James Putzel, Philipa Mladovsky, and Ken Shadlen as well as doctoral students. Demographic work on this theme is conducted by Tim Dyson.


The Department’s analysis focuses on the politics of how global health policies emerge in relation to the people who live in, and come to Europe from, low and middle-income countries, and medical concerns that especially concern poorer and more vulnerable people.

Tim Allen, James Putzel and Ken Shadlen have written on international politics of health – respectively on mass drug administration (MDA), the allocation of EU aid, and trade-based regulation of pharmaceuticals. The funding, supply and distribution of drugs in sub-Saharan Africa are of particular concern. For example Tim Allen’s research has found current standard practices of monitoring, evaluation and delivery of MDA for neglected tropical diseases to be inconsistent and inadequate; Ken Shadlen is currently exploring whether the increasing orientation of India’s pharmaceutical firms toward providing generic drugs in the US and EU is affecting the supply of high-quality, low-cost drugs in sub-Saharan Africa.

The interplay between global health politics and local understandings of illness and therapy, forms of service delivery and mechanisms for funding health care is another important focus. Tim Allen continues to work on local understandings and experiences of suffering and affliction, writing out ways in which African population seek therapy and allocate accountability through changing local healing practices and witchcraft accusation. Shirin Madon and Philipa Mladovsky are particularly interested in the role of communities in managing, delivering and funding health care. Shirin Madon is currently involved in longitudinal and action research on village health committees in India and Tanzania, focusing on systems of accountability in primary health care. Philipa Mladovsky is researching universal health coverage and the challenge of funding health care for the informal sector and socially excluded groups in West Africa and India.

Additionally, members of the department have studied the impact of conflict on health and health systems. The evolving role of humanitarian organisations is analysed by Stuart Gordon and Tim Allen. Stuart Gordon is also exploring the role of new actors in health service delivery, such as Non State Armed Groups. From another perspective, Tim Dyson and Valeria Cetorelli are conducting a major survey of mortality and health conditions among internally displaced people in Iraq, in collaboration with the Middle East Centre at LSE. Philipa Mladovsky is focusing on health and health system challenges faced by refugees and other migrants in Europe.

The state as a unit of analysis in global health remains an important focus. Stuart Gordon and Shirin Madon have analysed the political implications for state authority and local governance in privatising and reforming health care provision in Afghanistan and India. Meanwhile Tim Dyson is studying the population history of India, which includes discussion of the levels and trends of all major diseases.

In short, the analysis of the politics of global health in the Department indicates a commitment to understanding the ways in which health care within low and middle income countries is shaped by global institutions and trade, and the ability to reformulate health care to address needs and concerns of vulnerable people, including refugees and migrants.

Reflecting the inter and multi-disciplinary nature of global health research, the Department’s work draws on political science, economics, anthropology, sociology, demography and other disciplinary perspectives. 

Teaching on global health in the Department is concentrated in DV421 (Global health and development led by Philipa Mladovsky) and DV411 (Population and development led by Tim Dyson), but is also integrated into other modules. DV421 is also available as an optional module in the Global Health MSc offered by the Social Policy Department.


Research Profiles


Professor Tim Allen

Head of Department of International Development

Professor of Development Anthropology

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Professor Tim Dyson, International Development

Professor Tim Dyson

Professor of Population Studies

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Dr Stuart Gordon

Assistant Professor in Managing Humanitarianism

Programme Director, International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies

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Dr Shirin Madon

Associate Professor in ICTs and Socio-Economic Development

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Dr Philipa Mladovsky

Assistant Professor in International Development

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Professor James Putzel

Professor of Development Studies

Programme Director, Development Studies

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On research leave, 2015-2016.


Professor Ken Shadlen

Professor of Development Studies

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