Dr Bilal Avan

Associate Professor
Data Informed Platform for Health (DIPH- IDEAS) and CBNC evaluation lead


Keppel Street
United Kingdom

+44 (0)207 927 2317

My main interest is in developing and evaluating sound public health interventions in order to provide quality of care evidence for research-based decisions underpinning maternal and child health policies and services.

I am particularly interested in the promotion of community-based and cost-effective interventions in low and middle income countries which involve a far broader empirical base than has hitherto been thought practicable.

Currently, I am the Scientific Coordinator for the IDEAS project. IDEAS aims to improve the health and survival of mothers and babies through generating evidence to inform policy and practice. IDEAS uses measurement and evaluation to understand which health innovations and programmes deliver the greatest impact on maternal and newborn survival. The project works in Ethiopia, North-Eastern Nigeria, and the state of Uttar Pradesh in India.


Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Department of Clinical Research
Department of Disease Control


Centre for Evaluation
Maternal, Adolescent, Reproductive & Child Health (MARCH)
Global Mental Health


Currently, my research mainly focusses on the quantitatively measuring the scale-up of health innovations in each country. I lead the project's work in the following areas:

Implementation strength

Using the implementation strength evaluation process we aim to understand why some programmes or health innovations are successful and some fail, attribute outcomes to a programme and anticipate outcomes of future programmes. We are conducting surveys to assess the relationship between implementation strength (‘dose’) and change in the coverage of critical life-saving interventions (‘response’), i.e. if more effort is put in to implementing an innovation, does it result in more life-saving interventions reaching women and newborns?

Data Informed Platform for Health

The Data Informed Platform for Health (DIPH) is a framework to guide the coordination and collation of key data from the public, private and NGO health sectors on inputs and processes that could influence maternal and newborn health. The aims of the DIPH are to promote the use of local data:

  1. for decision-making and priority-setting at local health administration level
  2. on inputs and processes for programme appraisal and comparison at the regional or zonal level.

The DIPH will help us carry out our work on implementation strength by collecting input and process data.

Community-based newborn care - Ethiopia

Community-based newborn care (CBNC) in Ethiopia is a national programme that aims to improve newborn survival through the health extension programme. CBNC includes a package of interventions including management of neonatal sepsis. I lead the evaluation of CBNC, which will show the extent to which sepsis management is scaled-up, and the extent to which evidence-based life-saving behaviours and interventions at household level are improved as a result of CBNC.

Evidence synthesis

I lead the production of Knowledge Summaries for the WHO-based Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. PMNCH Knowledge Summaries synthesise the scientific evidence in a short, user-friendly format to inform policy and practice, and can be a useful resource for policymakers, advocates, program managers and others.

I am the lead author on a series of literature reviews. Reviews in development include:

Research Area
Child health
Health inequalities
Health policy
Health status measurement
Health systems
Maternal health
Perinatal health
Social and structural determinants of health
Adolescent health
Health workers
Behaviour change
Capacity strengthening
Environmental Health
Global Health
Health services
Impact evaluation
Neonatal health
Implementation research
Life-course epidemiology
Disease and Health Conditions
Mental health
Least developed countries: UN classification
South Asia
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)
Sub-Saharan Africa (all income levels)

Selected Publications

The effect of implementation strength of basic emergency obstetric and newborn care (BEmONC) on facility deliveries and the met need for BEmONC at the primary health care level in Ethiopia.
Tiruneh GT; Karim AM; Avan BI; Zemichael NF; Wereta TG; Wickremasinghe D; Keweti ZN; Kebede Z; Betemariam WA
BMC pregnancy and childbirth
DIPH Monitoring Report - South 24 Parganas, West Bengal - Cycle 3: November 2016 - March 2017
Avan B; Schellenberg J; Bhattacharyya S; Issac A; Bhattacharyya A; Biswas B
Community Based Newborn Care in Ethiopia: Quality of CBNC programme assessment Midline Evaluation Report
Avan B; Berhanu D
See more Publications