Professor Debra Jackson


Takeda Chair in Global Child Health

Keppel Street
United Kingdom


I joined LSHTM as the Takeda Chair in Global Child Health and Deputy Director of the MARCH Centre in August 2020. Previously I held the position of Senior Health Advisor and Chief of the Implementation Research and Delivery Science Unit, Health Section, UNICEF, which focuses on maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health programme research, data and digital health. I also holds an appointment as an Extraordinary Professor in Public Health at the School of Public Health (SoPH), University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa. I have qualifications in nursing, public health, epidemiology and biostatistics.


Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health


Centre for Maternal Adolescent Reproductive & Child Health (MARCH)



Tutor for Basic Epidemiology 2020


University of the Western Cape, South Africa

  1. Measuring Health & Disease I, Summer/Winter School & Post-graduate Certificate Distance Module, University of the Western Cape, 2000-2006
  2. Measuring Health & Disease II, Summer/Winter School & Post-graduate Diploma/Masters Distance Module, University of the Western Cape, 2000-2009
  3. Measuring Health & Disease III, Summer/Winter School & Masters in Public Health Selective, University of the Western Cape, 2001-2008
  4. Health Systems Research, Summer/Winter School & Masters in Public Health Selective, University of the Western Cape, 2001
  5. Monitoring & Evaluation, Summer/Winter School & Masters in Public Health Selective, University of the Western Cape, 2000-2008
  6. Measuring Health & Disease, Undergraduate Module, University of the Western Cape, 2002
  7. Survey Methods, Summer/Winter School & Diploma/Masters Selective Distance Module, University of the Western Cape, 2002-2005
  8. Advanced Epidemiology PHD Seminar, Uppsala University, Sweden, November 2002
  9. Research Methods, BCur Nursing, University of the Western Cape, 4th Year, 2004-2008
  10. Quantitative Research Methods, Summer/Winter School & Masters in Public Health Selective, University of the Western Cape, 2006-2009
  11. Community Health Nursing, BCur Nursing University of the Western Cape, 3rd Year, 2007
  12. Maternal and Child Health Policies & Programmes, Winter School and Post-graduate Selective, 2007-2009
Other 1. Advanced Epidemiology PHD Seminar, Uppsala University, Sweden, November 2002 2. Bergen Summer Research School – The unfinished agenda in Maternal and Child Health: Getting Research into Practice, June 2019. Bergen Norway.


My recent research has focused on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, infant feeding, birth registration, maternal and newborn health and community health workers.  I have over 130 peer-reviewed publications.

Pending and Current Research

Digital Health for Maternal Newborn Health & Community Child Health: I have two projects under development.  Digital Health for Community Child Health in collaboration with WHO/UNICEF as outlined in this proposal and research with University of Cape Town, WHO/UNICEF to develop a Digital Computable Module for postnatal care for mothers and newborns.  Both of these extend the continuum of care from the just released antenatal care computable module [Haddad, J Med Internet Research 2020].  Implementation research is critical for this work which engages human-centred design and participatory research.  Both projects will use mixed-methods designs across each development layer for the modules: Layer 1 - enhancements and consensus for existing global guidelines using a living guideline approach and digital curation led by a panel of global and local content experts; Layer 2: Digital Adaptations Kits (DAKs) – developing human readable components, structured workflows, decision support algorithms and data dictionaries; Layer 3: interoperable digital components, such as software specifications; Layer 4: customizable software; and Layer 5: advanced analytics for precision health – AI-based decision support and continuous improvement software.  I envision a multi-partner applied MNCH “implementation research laboratory” which engages in countries to achieve uptake and sustainability. 

COVID-19: I co-led development of the WHO/UNICEF/UNFPA Guidance on monitoring COVID-19 effects on reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition which is pending publication from WHO, with plans to use this module for research.  The aim of this pending study is to investigate COVID-19 impact on essential MNH services using routine health systems data, qualitative data, DHSS data and data from the UKRI-funded PRECISE (PREgnancy Care Integrating translational Science, Everywhere) Network cohort in The Gambia, Kenya, and Mozambique before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, and examine mitigation efforts in the local facilities and communities to address these impacts, to inform both COVID-19 response and preparation for future health emergencies.

Early Child Development: Also in development is a partnership with Stellenbosch University South Africa to build consensus amongst government, donors and stakeholders to develop research questions on early child development (ages 0 to 8 years old) in five countries. This will involve considering current and planned early childhood development programmes and platforms in the context of the current literature, and working closely with the wider research group, developing a set of country research strategies and then adapting as initial learning is applied. This will use flexible research approaches combining methods which are fit for purpose, e.g. randomized trials, hybrid designs and implementation research to assure research translation to policy and programmes for young children.

Maternal Newborn Quality of Care: As the co-chair of the Global Quality of Care Network Monitoring and Evaluation Working Group and the Every Newborn Action Plan Research and Innovation Working Group, I am coordinating embedded implementation research on quality of care for MNH in six countries. Local implementers and researchers examine challenges and solutions to implementing their quality of care or presumed bacterial sepsis in infants projects.  We are also analysing data and case studies from network countries for peer review publication.

Research Area
Health services research
Health systems
Health technology assessment
Maternal health
Perinatal health
Quality improvement
Research : policy relationship
Social and structural determinants of health
Adolescent health
Health workers
Global Health
Health services
Impact evaluation
Mixed methods
Mobile technologies
Neonatal health
Implementation research
Qualitative methods
Randomised controlled trials
Disease and Health Conditions
Respiratory disease
Burkina Faso
Cote d'Ivoire
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Micronesia, Fed. Sts.
United Kingdom
The Gambia
Marshall Islands
Myanmar (Burma)
Northern Mariana Islands
Solomon Islands
Sierra Leone
South Sudan
United States of America
South Africa
East Asia & Pacific (developing only)
Least developed countries: UN classification
Pacific island small states
Sub-Saharan Africa (all income levels)

Selected Publications

Pro-equity immunization and health systems strengthening strategies in select Gavi-supported countries.
Dadari I; Higgins-Steele A; Sharkey A; Charlet D; Shahabuddin A; Nandy R; Jackson D
Closing the know-do gap for child health: UNICEF's experiences from embedding implementation research in child health and nutrition programming.
Jackson D; Shahabuddin ASM; Sharkey AB; Källander K; Muñiz M; Mwamba R; Nyankesha E; Scherpbier RW; Hasman A; Balarajan Y
Implementation science communications
Birth, stillbirth and death registration data completeness, quality and utility in population-based surveys: EN-INDEPTH study.
Kasasa S; Natukwatsa D; Galiwango E; Nareeba T; Gyezaho C; Fisker AB; Mengistu MY; Dzabeng F; Haider MM; Yargawa J
Population health metrics
Effect of a baby-friendly workplace support intervention on exclusive breastfeeding in Kenya.
Kimani-Murage EW; Wilunda C; Macharia TN; Kamande EW; Gatheru PM; Zerfu T; Donfouet HPP; Kiige L; Jabando S; Dinga LA
Maternal & child nutrition
Optimising geographical accessibility to primary health care: a geospatial analysis of community health posts and community health workers in Niger.
Oliphant N; Ray N; Bensaid K; Ouedraogo A; Yaroh Gali A; Habi O; Maazou I; Panciera R; Muñiz M; Sy Z
BMJ Global Health
Optimising geographical accessibility to primary health care: a geospatial analysis of community health posts and community health workers in Niger.
Oliphant NP; Ray N; Bensaid K; Ouedraogo A; Gali AY; Habi O; Maazou I; Panciera R; Muñiz M; Sy Z
BMJ global health
An analytic perspective of a mixed methods study during humanitarian crises in South Sudan: translating facility- and community-based newborn guidelines into practice.
Sami S; Amsalu R; Dimiti A; Jackson D; Kenneth K; Kenyi S; Meyers J; Mullany LC; Scudder E; Tomczyk B
Conflict and health
An embedded implementation research initiative to tackle service delivery bottlenecks in the expanded programme on immunisation in Pakistan: Overview and reflections.
Shahabuddin A; Sharkey A; Khalid F; Rasanathan K; Hasman A; Tran N; Durrani A; Ongwae K; Duncan R; Ahmed KA
Journal of Global Health
See more Publications