School of Health Sciences and Social Work

Global Health and Social Care Unit

The Global Health and Social Care Unit (Global Health) is an interdisciplinary research team consisting of social and health care researchers from a range of disciplines including anthropology, social work, international development, demography, social statistics, development economics, human geography, health services, and epidemiology with a mission to carry out research that promotes population health and to achieve health related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Global Health was established at the School of Health Sciences and Social Work (SHSSW) in 2007 and in a short duration the Unit gained international recognition for global health research, doctoral and post-doctoral training. It offers global health pathway for the MSc in International Development offered by the University of Portsmouth. Global Health researchers collaborate with national (e.g. University of oxford) and international academics of repute and international organisations and have attracted research grants from ESRC, British Academy, DFID, and Local Governments. We undertake high impact policy relevant research on international health as well as theoretical research underpinning health inequalities and health outcomes.

Research focus

global health

Health system inequalities

A key area of Global Health research is health system inequalities and inequalities in health outcomes. A recently completed project under the ESRC-Pathfinder funding examined human resources inequalities at the base of India’s primary health care system. We noted significant inequalities in human resources at the base of the public health care system and health outcomes. A more focused research on human resources inequalities in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India is being studied through a PhD project. Global Health is interested in examining the underlying health system inequalities for inequalities in health outcomes. Global Health currently undertakes a project on access to essential medicines through government health care system in India using data from health facility survey. Global Health is currently working with ESRC-Pathfinder partners in the area of health worker absenteeism in India's public health care system.

global care

Health risk behaviour

Drug, alcohol and smoking are an area of health risk behaviour that the Global Health carried out research on. The majority of our research in this area is UK based. Members have developed synthetic estimation technique to predict small area estimations of health risk behaviours such as smoking, obesity and alcohol consumption. Members of Global Health are keen to take the methodologies used/developed in UK research in developing countries through collaborative projects. Global Health is also keen to examine heath risk behaviour of middle class households in emerging economics (e.g BRICS).

Low fertility in developing countries

Fertility is currently below replacement level in many developing countries and there is growing evidence that fertility is falling in areas where it used to be very high. Global Health in collaboration with University of Oxford and Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Trivandrum was awarded an ESRC seminar series on Post Transitional Fertility in Developing Countries to undertake a series of events to understand low fertility in developing countries and to promote research in this area. Global Health is engaged in undertaking various issues around the implications of low fertility and was awarded a prestigious British Academy Research Development Award (BARDA) to examine the consequences of early sterilisation and low fertility on women’s health and social well-being.

Our research showed that early sterilisation and low fetility did not help women to improve their education or skill development. However, there was a positive impact on women's work participation. Global Health is currently undertaking research on the impact of low fertility on living arrangements, migration, elderly care, one child households, and on those socially and economically backward social groups. The current geographic focus of our research is on South India and is supported by Research Development Award (RDF) from the University of Portsmouth.

Sexual and reproductive health

Global Health is committed to undertake research that promotes reproductive and sexual health of men and women. Global Health is currently engaged in understanding impact of various contraceptive methods and mixes of methods on contraceptive prevalence, unmet need, unwanted and unintended pregnancies in developing countries through an Overview of Systematic Reviews (OoR) funded by the DFID. Another systematic review undertaken by the Global Health examined the type of family planning delivery mechanism on the uptake of family planning services. Outputs from this research are being prepared and will be available in public domain. “Harmful cultural practices and its association with HIV in Malawi” is currently investigated through a PhD project. A recent project supported by Leverhume fellowship examined unmarried young people’s knowledge about various contraceptive methods in India and highlighted significant gaps in knowedge abut modern temporary family planning methods. A component of BARDA project examined female sterilisation regret in India and noted higher regret among women who have been sterilised at younger ages compared to those sterilised at older ages.

Maternal and child health

Our policy relevant research in this area examined inequalities in pregnancy related advice given to pregnant women during antenatal care visits in India and found women from poor socio-economically backgrounds are less likely to be advised compared to pregnant women from better socio-economic backgrounds. One of the most influencing researches in this area is the association that we investigated between 2 doses of Tetanus vaccination and neonatal mortality. This study based on India data showed that Tetanus vaccination provided most protective effect on neonatal mortality. These research activities received international attention and are likely to have significant policy impact on antenatal care services in India and similar settings. Global Health plans to further undertake research on maternal and child health particularly on those issues that are barriers of achieving maternal and child health related MDG goals.

Gender, women’s autonomy, and domestic violence

Gender, women’s autonomy and domestic violence are important social determinants of women’s access to health care and health outcomes and the Global Health group undertook research projects. Our research supported by BARDA examined the association between early age at female sterilisation and her autonomy. This research noted significant increase in women’s autonomy (social benefits) as a result of early age at sterilisation in South India. In another project we examined dowry (money and gifts given to the husband by women’s parents at the time of marriage) and domestic violence in India. The study showed that giving a dowry did not influence domestic violence but having the autonomy to use dowry by women had significantly lower domestic violence. We continue to work in domestic violence and we are now examining recent eruption of rape cases in India and its context with Indian partners supported by a British Academy grant.

Research Group Members

Researchers

Doctoral students

  • Aditya Singh
  • Samantha Page
  • Zara Bhatewara
  • Md Shahid Uddin
  • Cindy Chacha

International visitors

  • Dr Abhishek Singh; Leverhulme Visiting Fellowship (12 months); International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, India
  • Professor William Stones (2 weeks), DFID project supported visit, University of St Andrews/ Malawi College of Medicine

International collaborators

  • Dr Abhishk Singh, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, India
  • Prof. Irudaya Rajan, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum, India
  • Prof. William Stones, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of St Andrews/ Malawi College of Medicine
  • Prof. André Junqueira Caetano, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil
  • Prof. Anil Kumar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India
  • Prof. Professor Clifford Odimegwu, Head Demography and Population Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • Prof. Alex, Africa Population Health Research Centre, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Dr E Ezeh, Executive Director, Assistant Representative, United Nation Population Fund, New Delhi. 
  • Dr Venkatesh Srinivasan, Assistant Representative, United Nation Population Fund, New Delhi.