Jennifer Palmer BSc MSc PhD

Research Fellow

Jennifer Palmer's Background

Jen Palmer is a a social scientist and operational researcher based in the International Centres for Eye Health and Evidence in Disability (ICEH and ICED) and the Centre for Maternal Reproductive & Child Health (MARCH) at LSHTM. She conducted her PhD on case-detection in human African trypanosomiasis (HAT, sleeping sickness) in post-conflict South Sudan, with a special focus on patient and healthcare worker utilisation of passive screening services. Jen holds a BSc, Hon in Microbiology & Immunology from McGill University and completed an MSc in Control of Infectious Diseases at LSHTM. She has also worked with non-governmental organisations in post-conflict and emergency contexts in Africa and Asia.

Jennifer Palmer's Affiliation

Jennifer Palmer's Teaching

Jen teaches on the MSc modules, Designing Disease Control Programmes in Developing Countries; Conflict & Health; and the short courses, Understanding an Eye Health System to Achieve Vision2020; and Tropical Ophthomology. She is a course tutor for the in-house MSc Control of Infectious Diseases and MSc Public Health for Eye Care and has developed course content for the distance-learning Infectious Diseases masters.

Jennifer Palmer's Research

In her PhD, Jen combined anthropological and epidemiological methods to understand community disease discourses, patient treatment-seeking and healthcare worker referral practices in the Nimule HAT focus in Magwi County, South Sudan. As an extension of this work, she conducted an intervention to train health workers at primary care facilities to recognise syndromic cases for referral. These projects were in collaboration with Medical Emergency Relief International (Merlin) and were funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada as well as the Sir Halley Stewart Trust.

Jen is interested in developing community- and primary health care-based, low-technology interventions appropriate to a HAT elimination context; she is currently working with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics and the Ministry of Health in Uganda to understand the baseline context into which rapid diagnostic tests for HAT are being introduced.

In South Sudan, she is researching the domestic regulatory, policy and cultural environment surrounding access to maternal and reproductive health services which are key to reducing maternal deaths from unwanted pregnancy. This in-depth work complements a broader DFID-funded multi-country desk-based evaluation of maternal health interventions that she is conducting across 14 countries of Africa and Asia.

Finally, Jen is working on two health systems projects related to eye care. One, funded by Sightsavers, is mapping national human resources and service provision in relation to Vision 2020 targets in sub-Saharan Africa. The second, funded by CBM, uses ethnographic methods to explore local sustainability practices in eye care governance in the Lake Zone of Tanzania.

Her previous research has included: development of a method to estimated refugee/IDP populations using satellite imagery; a study on the sustainability of physical rehabilitation health systems in fragile states (Somaliland, Nepal, Cambodia, Sierra Leone & Liberia) with Handicap International; and providing social science support on malaria-related projects with the ACT Consortium.

Jen is broadly interested in the implementation of health programmes in conflict-affected and emergency settings and is a member of the Public Health in Humanitarian Crises Group at the school.

Research areas

  • Complex interventions
  • Conflict
  • Diagnostics
  • Disease control
  • Ethnography
  • Health services research
  • Health systems
  • Health workers
  • Implementation research
  • Maternal health
  • Mixed methods
  • Qualitative methods
  • Surveillance


  • Anthropology
  • Epidemiology
  • Operational research
  • Social Sciences

Disease and Health Conditions

  • African trypanosomiasis
  • Disability
  • Eye diseases
  • Infectious disease
  • Malaria
  • Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)


  • Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)


  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda

Other interests

  • Access To Care
  • Eye Health
  • Family Planning
  • Fragile States
  • International Eye Health
  • Neglected Tropical Diseases
  • Post Conflict Reconstruction
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