Dr Bilal Iqbal


Associate Professor


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.


Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health
Department of Population Health


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


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.

Research Area
Child health
Complex interventions
Health inequalities
Health policy
Health services research
Health systems
Maternal health
Perinatal health
Adolescent health
Health workers
Behaviour change
Capacity strengthening
Global Health
Impact evaluation
Implementation research
Disease and Health Conditions
Infectious disease
Mental health
Least developed countries: UN classification
South Asia
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)

Selected Publications

\"There Is No Link Between Resource Allocation and Use of Local Data\": A Qualitative Study of District-Based Health Decision-Making in West Bengal, India.
Bhattacharyya S; Issac A; Girase B; Guha M; Schellenberg J; Iqbal Avan B
Modeling the potential reduction of newborn mortality with national scaling up of community based newborn care in Ethiopia
Tadesse L; Sylla M; Pearson L; Tarn Y; Tariku A; Avan B
Ethiopian Medical Journal
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
District decision-making for health in low-income settings: a case study of the potential of public and private sector data in India and Ethiopia.
Bhattacharyya S; Berhanu D; Taddesse N; Srivastava A; Wickremasinghe D; Schellenberg J; Iqbal Avan B
Health policy and planning
District decision-making for health in low-income settings: a qualitative study in Uttar Pradesh, India, on engaging the private health sector in sharing health-related data.
Gautham M; Spicer N; Subharwal M; Gupta S; Srivastava A; Bhattacharyya S; Avan BI; Schellenberg J
Health policy and planning
Measuring implementation strength: lessons from the evaluation of public health strategies in low- and middle-income settings.
Hargreaves JRM; Goodman C; Davey C; Willey BA; Avan BI; Schellenberg JRA
Health policy and planning
Linkages between public and non-government sectors in healthcare: A case study from Uttar Pradesh, India.
Srivastava A; Bhattacharyya S; Gautham M; Schellenberg J; Avan BI
Global public health
District decision-making for health in low-income settings: a systematic literature review.
Wickremasinghe D; Hashmi IE; Schellenberg J; Avan BI
Health policy and planning
Determinants of women's satisfaction with maternal health care: a review of literature from developing countries.
Srivastava A; Avan BI; Rajbangshi P; Bhattacharyya S
BMC pregnancy and childbirth
Taking knowledge users' knowledge needs into account in health: an evidence synthesis framework.
Wickremasinghe D; Kuruvilla S; Mays N; Avan BI
Health policy and planning
Qualitative adaptation of child behaviour problem instruments in a developing-country setting.
Khan B; Avan BI
Eastern Mediterranean health journal = La revue de sante de la Mediterranee orientale = al-Majallah al-sihhiyah li-sharq al-mutawassit
Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus: prevalence and risk factors among people with type 2 diabetes mellitus in an Urban District of Karachi, Pakistan.
Siddiqui FJ; Avan BI; Mahmud S; Nanan DJ; Jabbar A; Assam PN
Diabetes research and clinical practice
A strategy for reducing maternal and newborn deaths by 2015 and beyond.
Darmstadt GL; Marchant T; Claeson M; Brown W; Morris S; Donnay F; Taylor M; Ferguson R; Voller S; Teela KC
BMC pregnancy and childbirth
Clean birth kits to improve birth practices: development and testing of a country level decision support tool.
Hundley VA; Avan BI; Ahmed H; Graham WJ; Birth Kit Working Group
BMC pregnancy and childbirth
Are birth kits a good idea? A systematic review of the evidence.
Hundley VA; Avan BI; Braunholtz D; Graham WJ
Lessons regarding the use of birth kits in low resource countries.
Hundley VA; Avan BI; Braunholtz D; Fitzmaurice AE; Graham WJ
P2-529 Children living in poor hygiene and sanitation conditions: why does it matter?
Nadeem S; Avan BI
Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health
Role of neighbourhoods in child growth and development: does 'place' matter?
Avan BI; Kirkwood B
Social science & medicine (1982)
Residents' perceptions of work environment during their postgraduate medical training in Pakistan.
Avan BI; Raza SA; Khokhar S; Awan F; Sohail N; Rashid S; Hamza H
Journal of postgraduate medicine
A matched case-control study of risk factors for neonatal tetanus in Karachi, Pakistan.
Raza SA; Akhtar S; Avan BI; Hamza H; Rahbar MH
Journal of postgraduate medicine
Factors influencing the selection of surgical specialty among Pakistani medical graduates.
Avan BI; Raza SA; Hamza H; Khokhar S; Awan F
Journal of postgraduate medicine
Moving from concepts to study types approaches to classifying scientific inquiry.
Avan BI; White F
JPMA The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association
Perspective on variables in medical research.
Avan BI; White F
JPMA The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association
The proposition: an insight into research.
Avan BI; White F
JPMA The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association
Why a research study needs a design?
Avan BI; White F
JPMA The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association
Place research problem in theory--a theory research symbiosis.
Avan BI
JPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association
Point of entry into research--problem orientation.
Avan BI
JPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association
Avan BI
JPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association
Thinking like a researcher.
Avan BI
JPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association
See more Publications