Dr Bilal Iqbal
MD MSc PhD FFPH
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.
My current research is as follows:
Support to the National Malaria Programme-2 (SuNMaP-2)
SuNMaP-2 is a Malaria Consortium-led project, funded by FCDO-UK, that aims to reduce Nigeria’s malaria burden through more effective use of available resources. This large-scale project focuses on strengthening national- and state-level malaria control programmes in their management, coordination and delivery of malaria services. I lead the evaluation of this programme, in collaboration with UCL. Our mixed-methods longitudinal study comprises continuous surveys, process evaluations, and in-depth qualitative assessments. This is a theory-of-change-based evaluation, aiming to inform the effectiveness of FCDO-UK’s exit strategy from bilateral malaria funding in Nigeria, and establish the long-term sustainability of SuNMaP-2’s programmatic efforts.
COVID-19: Psychosocial and mental health needs of health workers in Pakistan
This study is to inform the government of Pakistan about health system bottlenecks and healthcare workers at risk of developing psychological distress and other mental health symptoms in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am providing technical support to assess over 1000 health service providers across primary, secondary and tertiary care levels for professional skills, organisational communication, psychosocial support, and conducive work environment. The study is led by Aga Khan University, Pakistan, with co-funding from WHO.
Inclusive, supportive and dignified maternity care (SDMC)
This research is in progress in Pakistan, with Aga Khan University and the University of Karachi as implementing partners, and is funded by MRC-UK. It aims to develop and test the intervention of the SDMC model within health systems, especially the capacity of service providers, and the accountability and governance of maternity-care providers. This study characterises respectful maternity care by bringing together WHO’s mhGAP and human rights perspectives.
Data-Informed Platform for Health (DIPH)
This health system-strengthening intervention is funded by BGMF. The research prototype was developed in West Bengal India. Implementation and evaluation of DIPH are in progress over 24 districts in Ethiopia. It promotes the use of local data for decision-making and priority-setting, and for multi-sector collaborations at the district health administration level, to influence maternal and new-born health - especially maternity, infections and vaccinations services.
Evaluation of community-based new-born care (CBNC)
CBNC Ethiopia is a national programme to improve new-born survival through strengthening primary health care and community services. It is a package of interventions, including management of neonatal sepsis. I lead a five-year evaluation of CBNC, funded by BMGF, with a focus on health system responsiveness, and improvements in evidence-based life-saving behaviours and coverage of interventions at household level.