Professor Dina Balabanova


of Health Systems and Policy

TP 308

15-17 Tavistock Place
United Kingdom

+44 (0)20 7927 2104

I am a Professor of Health Systems and Policy in the Department of Global Health and Development, with over 20 years of experience in health systems and policy research in low- and middle-income countries. My main expertise is in health systems governance, effective delivery models and health systems strengthening—across a range of low- and middle-income countries.

I have served as an elected Board member of Health Systems Global, a professional society for health policy and systems research (HPSR) (2012-18), and co-founder and former co-chair of its Thematic Working Group on Teaching and Learning HPSR. I served as commissioner on the Lancet Commission on Realigning Child Health in the SDG Era (2019-2020) and I am currently on the technical team of the Lancet Global Health Commission on PHC Financing for LMICs. I am Senior Board Member for BMC Health Services Research. I sit on a range of funding panels and advisory steering committees.


Faculty of Public Health and Policy
Department of Global Health and Development


Centre for Evaluation
Centre for Global Chronic Conditions


I have developed, and as a Module Lead oversee the LSHTM Health Systems modules (face-to-face and distance learning). I have delivered HPSR training worldwide – currently undertaking a NIHR funded project to accelerate the development of HPSR capacity in Western Pacific Region and create learning networks.

I currently supervise PhD students working on social innovation in Malawi and LMICs, the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone and NCD/HIV comparative policy analysis in Botswana.   


I have developed a portfolio on anti-corruption research. Within the DFID-funded Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) research consortium in Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Tanzania, the research focuses on providers’ incentives to engage in rent-seeking—informal payments, absenteeism, pharmaceutical market distortion, and on identifying tailored strategies to address these practices. A new ‘Accountability in Action’ study funded by MRC HSRI explores ways to address the institutional, structural and social drivers of health sector corruption at district level in Nigeria and Malawi.

I have long-term interests in assessment of health systems responses to the growing burden of complex chronic disease requiring complex inputs in terms of treatment, follow-up and care processes (hypertension, diabetes). Currently I am a deputy PI on the RESPOND project funded by Wellcome Trust/ Newton Fund-MRC Humanities & Social Science Collaborative Award exploring barriers to hypertension control among poor populations in Malaysia and the Philippines (RESPOND) using surveys and a digital diary platform, building on previous work on diabetes. The project also involves strengthening capacity to use evidence and engage in political processes to respond to the needs of these groups.

In the past, I have led interdisciplinary multi-method projects involving comparative research on health systems and governance, such as the ‘Good Health at Low Cost 25 years on’ project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation examining ways in which good governance and accountability has promoted major advances in health and access to services in some LMICs compared to others at a similar level of wealth. Other work focuses on developing effective and equitable primary care models for underserved populations involving community volunteers (Ethiopia, PI/HSRI grant) and building resilient health systems (Sierra Leone, Co-I/HSRI).

Research Area
Complex interventions
Health care financing
Health care policy
Health inequalities
Health policy
Health sector development
Health services research
Health systems
Maternal health
Primary care
Health workers
Capacity strengthening
Global Health
Mixed methods
Implementation research
Qualitative methods
Policy analysis
Social Sciences
Disease and Health Conditions
Chronic disease
Cervical cancer
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
Non-communicable diseases
Sierra Leone
East Asia & Pacific (developing only)
Europe & Central Asia (developing only)
Least developed countries: UN classification
South Asia
Sub-Saharan Africa (all income levels)

Selected Publications

Enhancing the use of stakeholder analysis for policy implementation research: towards a novel framing and operationalised measures.
Balane MA; Palafox B; Palileo-Villanueva LM; McKee M; Balabanova D
BMJ global health
The Long and Winding Road: A Systematic Literature Review Conceptualising Pathways for Hypertension Care and Control in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.
Brathwaite R; Hutchinson E; McKee M; Palafox B; Balabanova D
International Journal of Health Policy and Management
Targeting anticorruption interventions at the front line: developmental governance in health systems.
Hutchinson E; Naher N; Roy P; McKee M; Mayhew SH; Ahmed SM; Balabanova D
BMJ global health
Do social accountability approaches work? A review of the literature from selected low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia region.
Naher N; Balabanova D; Hutchinson E; Marten R; Hoque R; Tune SNBK; Islam BZ; Ahmed SM
Health policy and planning
Crowdsourcing to identify social innovation initiatives in health in low- and middle-income countries.
van Niekerk L; Ongkeko A; Hounsell RA; Msiska BK; Mathanga DP; Mothe J; Juban N; Awor P; Balabanova D
Infectious diseases of poverty
Health system reforms in China a half century apart: Continuity but adaptation.
Yuan B; Jian W; Martinez-Alvarez M; McKee M; Balabanova D
Social science & medicine (1982)
See more Publications