Professor Lucy Gilson


of Health Policy & Systems

Keppel Street
United Kingdom

based in South Africa

I have lived in South Africa since 1995, first working at the Centre for Health Policy at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and since 2007, holding a joint appointment between the LSHTM and the School of Public Health and Family Medicine at the University of Cape Town - where I am head of the Health Policy and Systems Division.

From this joint position I am committed to the development of health policy and systems research as an innovative, applied and interdisciplinary field, at the cutting edge of health systems and societal development. Research in this field is integrally connected to policy and wider social engagement, and to capacity strengthening for health system development. 

I support a wide range of health policy and systems research (HPSR), with a particular  focus on on leadership, governance and the politics of policy change. I was the co-Research Director of the Resilient and Responsive Health Systems consortium (RESYST), a UK-DFID funded research consortium bringing together researchers from South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Thailand, India, Vietnam and the UK ( In South Africa I engage closely with the Western Cape Department of Health, supporting health system development and working closely with the South African Collaboration for Health Systems Analysis and Innovation (CHESAI I also support various HPSR capacity strengthening initiatives - including but extending beyond formal psotgraduate educational activities. From my UCT base I currently coordinate the Health Policy Analysis Fellowship programme, a doctoral mentoring programme funded by the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research. I also currently support the LSHTM Executive Programme for Global Health Leadership. Finally, I led the Consortium for Health Policy and Systems Analysis in Africa (CHEPSAA, an eleven partner consortium of African and European universities which was funded by the European Union.

I am a Board Member of Health Systems Global and a section editor for Health Policy Processes of the journal Health Policy and Planning.

My background is in development studies, health economics and health policy.


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


Centre for Evaluation


My LSHTM teaching commitments focus on PhD supervision, support for distance learning courses and occasional on-site teaching. I also support teaching activities in South Africa with a focus on health leadership, health policy and health systems - at postgraduate Diploma, MPH and PhD levels.


My primary research interests include concerns for: equity in health and health care; governance and leadership in health systems; how health care is funded and organised; the relational dimensions of of health systems; and how decisions about health and health care policies are made by political, managerial and household actors. I am also interested in methodological and theoretical developments that support this range of research interests - and that engage with the complexity of whole system change.

Research Area
Complex interventions
Health care financing
Health care policy
Health inequalities
Health policy
Health sector development
Health systems
Research : policy relationship
Capacity strengthening
Implementation research
Qualitative methods
Development studies
Policy analysis
Social Sciences
Sub-Saharan Africa (all income levels)

Selected Publications

Organizational change and everyday health system resilience: Lessons from Cape Town, South Africa.
Gilson L; Ellokor S; Lehmann U; Brady L
Social Science & Medicine
Learning sites for health system governance in Kenya and South Africa: reflecting on our experience.
RESYST/DIAHLS learning site team
Health Research Policy and Systems
Health system strengthening-Reflections on its meaning, assessment, and our state of knowledge.
Witter S; Palmer N; Balabanova D; Mounier-Jack S; Martineau T; Klicpera A; Jensen C; Pugliese-Garcia M; Gilson L
The International journal of health planning and management
Enabling relational leadership in primary healthcare settings: lessons from the DIALHS collaboration.
Cleary S; Toit AD; Scott V; Gilson L
Health policy and planning
Everyday resilience in district health systems: emerging insights from the front lines in Kenya and South Africa.
Gilson L; Barasa E; Nxumalo N; Cleary S; Goudge J; Molyneux S; Tsofa B; Lehmann U
BMJ global health
Practicing governance towards equity in health systems: LMIC perspectives and experience.
Gilson L; Lehmann U; Schneider H
International journal for equity in health
See more Publications