Professor Betty Kirkwood


of Epidemiology & International Health

Room 181

Keppel Street
United Kingdom

I am an epidemiologist with a statistical background. My research is driven by a desire to improve the health of young children and their mothers in low and middle-income countries, and to increase access to known effective interventions. It is focussed on informing priority policy issues through tackling gaps in evidence to enable effective decision making for maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition policies and programmes. I have made major contributions in the following areas: (i) Cluster randomised controlled trials evaluating the delivery through community-based workers of key known effective interventions for (a) newborn and child survival, and (b) early child development and growth; (ii) Definitive trials evaluating vitamin A supplementation strategies; (iii) Evaluating key maternal, newborn and child health interventions (including breastfeeding, access to facility births, water supply and sanitation) (iv) Increasing access to treatments for common mental disorders; (v) Understanding the epidemiology of childhood diarrhoea and pneumonia.

My substantive research has been accompanied by a commitment to translating research findings into health policy and programme action, to teaching, to research capacity strengthening, and to making complex epidemiological and statistical methods accessible to public health researchers and policy makers. The latter led to my textbook "Essential Medical Statistics", first published in 1988.

I have an extensive network of overseas collaborators and close links with the World Health Organization, including serving on the Strategic & Technical Group of Experts (STAGE) for maternal, newborn, child & adolescent health and nutrition.

I am a fellow of the Academy of Medial Sciences and a fellow (by distintion) of the UK Faculty of Public Health. In 2017, I received the George Macdonald medal in recognition of outstanding research leading to improvement of health in the tropics.


Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health
Department of Population Health


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


I organise the Epidemiolgy in Practice module, which is taken by all MSc Epidemiology and MSc Veterinary Epidemiology students. I enjoy teaching and believe in a student-centred, problem-based approach. I am committed to making complex methodological concepts accessible to non-specialists; this led to my textbook “Essential Medical Statistics”, first published in 1988. The second edition of Essential Medical Statistics is co-authored with Jonathan Sterne and was published in May 2003 (

I have supervised 19 PhD students in total; 2 current and 17 completed. Four students were awarded prizes; two received the Woodruff Medal for best thesis in troipcal medicine, and two the Cecily Williams Prize for an outstanding research student completing a doctoral thesis on a topic which advances the helth of vulnerable populations.


Research Area
Child health
Clinical trials
Complex interventions
Health inequalities
Perinatal health
Public health
Behaviour change
Global Health
Impact evaluation
Mixed methods
Implementation research
Randomised controlled trials
Disease and Health Conditions
Diarrhoeal diseases
Mental health
Latin America & Caribbean (all income levels)
Least developed countries: UN classification
South Asia
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)

Selected Publications

Who actually cares for children in slums? Why we need to think, and do, more about paid childcare in urbanizing sub-Saharan Africa.
Hughes RC; Kitsao-Wekulo P; Muendo R; Bhopal SS; Kimani-Murage E; Hill Z; Kirkwood BR
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Nairobi Early Childcare in Slums (NECS) Study Protocol: a mixed-methods exploration of paid early childcare in Mukuru slum, Nairobi.
Hughes RC; Kitsao-Wekulo P; Bhopal S; Kimani-Murage EW; Hill Z; Kirkwood BR
BMJ paediatrics open
Does facility birth reduce maternal and perinatal mortality in Brong Ahafo, Ghana? A secondary analysis using data on 119 244 pregnancies from two cluster-randomised controlled trials.
Gabrysch S; Nesbitt RC; Schoeps A; Hurt L; Soremekun S; Edmond K; Manu A; Lohela TJ; Danso S; Tomlin K
The Lancet Global Health
Increasing access to care for sick newborns: evidence from the Ghana Newhints cluster-randomised controlled trial.
Manu A; Hill Z; Ten Asbroek AH; Soremekun S; Weobong B; Gyan T; Tawiah-Agyemang C; Danso S; Amenga-Etego S; Owusu-Agyei S
BMJ open
Association between probable postnatal depression and increased infant mortality and morbidity: findings from the DON population-based cohort study in rural Ghana.
Weobong B; ten Asbroek AHA; Soremekun S; Gram L; Amenga-Etego S; Danso S; Owusu-Agyei S; Prince M; Kirkwood BR
BMJ open
Evaluating the implementation of community volunteer assessment and referral of sick babies: lessons learned from the Ghana Newhints home visits cluster randomized controlled trial.
Ansah Manu A; ten Asbroek A; Soremekun S; Gyan T; Weobong B; Tawiah-Agyemang C; Danso S; Amenga-Etego S; Owusu-Agyei S; Hill Z
Health policy and planning
Effect of early neonatal vitamin A supplementation on mortality during infancy in Ghana (Neovita): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
Edmond KM; Newton S; Shannon C; O'Leary M; Hurt L; Thomas G; Amenga-Etego S; Tawiah-Agyemang C; Gram L; Hurt CN
Effect of implementation of integrated management of neonatal and childhood illness programme on treatment seeking practices for morbidities in infants: cluster randomised trial.
Mazumder S; Taneja S; Bahl R; Mohan P; Strand TA; Sommerfelt H; Kirkwood BR; Goyal N; Van Den Hombergh H; Martines J
BMJ (Clinical research ed)
Integrating maternal psychosocial well-being into a child-development intervention: the five-pillars approach.
Zafar S; Sikander S; Haq Z; Hill Z; Lingam R; Skordis-Worrall J; Hafeez A; Kirkwood B; Rahman A
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Effect of the Newhints home-visits intervention on neonatal mortality rate and care practices in Ghana: a cluster randomised controlled trial.
Kirkwood BR; Manu A; ten Asbroek AHA; Soremekun S; Weobong B; Gyan T; Danso S; Amenga-Etego S; Tawiah-Agyemang C; Owusu-Agyei S
Quality of newborn care: a health facility assessment in rural Ghana using survey, vignette and surveillance data.
Vesel L; Manu A; Lohela TJ; Gabrysch S; Okyere E; Ten Asbroek AHA; Hill Z; Agyemang CT; Owusu-Agyei S; Kirkwood BR
BMJ Open
Promoting skin-to-skin care for low birthweight babies: findings from the Ghana Newhints cluster-randomised trial.
Vesel L; ten Asbroek AHA; Manu A; Soremekun S; Tawiah Agyemang C; Okyere E; Owusu-Agyei S; Hill Z; Kirkwood BR
Tropical medicine & international health
Determinants of postnatal depression in rural ghana: findings from the don population based cohort study.
Weobong B; Ten Asbroek AH; Soremekun S; Danso S; Owusu-Agyei S; Prince M; Kirkwood BR
Depression and anxiety
Impact of free delivery care on health facility delivery and insurance coverage in Ghana's Brong Ahafo Region.
Dzakpasu S; Soremekun S; Manu A; Ten Asbroek G; Tawiah C; Hurt L; Fenty J; Owusu-Agyei S; Hill Z; Campbell OMR
PloS one
How changes in coverage affect equity in maternal and child health interventions in 35 Countdown to 2015 countries: an analysis of national surveys.
Victora CG; Barros AJD; Axelson H; Bhutta ZA; Chopra M; França GVA; Kerber K; Kirkwood BR; Newby H; Ronsmans C
Reproductive health, and child health and nutrition in India: meeting the challenge
Paul VK; Sachdev HS; Mavalankar D; Ramachandran P; Sankar MJ; Bhandari N; Sreenivas V; Sundararaman T; Govil D; Osrin D
Role of neighbourhoods in child growth and development: does 'place' matter?
Avan BI; Kirkwood B
Social science & medicine (1982)
Effect of vitamin A supplementation in women of reproductive age on maternal survival in Ghana (ObaapaVitA): a cluster-randomised, placebo-controlled trial.
Kirkwood BR; Hurt L; Amenga-Etego S; Tawiah C; Zandoh C; Danso S; Hurt C; Edmond K; Hill Z; Ten Asbroek G
Alternatives to randomisation in the evaluation of public health interventions: design challenges and solutions.
Bonell CP; Hargreaves J; Cousens S; Ross D; Hayes R; Petticrew M; Kirkwood BR
Journal of epidemiology and community health
Alternatives to randomisation in the evaluation of public-health interventions: statistical analysis and causal inference.
Cousens S; Hargreaves J; Bonell C; Armstrong B; Thomas J; Kirkwood BR; Hayes R
Journal of epidemiology and community health
Social costs of skilled attendance at birth in rural Ghana.
Bazzano AN; Kirkwood B; Tawiah-Agyemang C; Owusu-Agyei S; Adongo P
International journal of gynaecology and obstetrics
How did formative research inform the development of a home-based neonatal care intervention in rural Ghana?
Hill Z; Manu A; Tawiah-Agyemang C; Gyan T; Turner K; Weobong B; Ten Asbroek AHA; Kirkwood BR
Journal of perinatology
Delayed breastfeeding initiation increases risk of neonatal mortality.
Edmond KM; Zandoh C; Quigley MA; Amenga-Etego S; Owusu-Agyei S; Kirkwood BR
How local community knowledge about malaria affects insecticide-treated net use in northern Ghana.
Adongo PB; Kirkwood B; Kendall C
Tropical medicine & international health
Essential Medical Statistics
Kirkwood BR; Sterne JAC
Risk factors for childhood pneumonia among the urban poor in Fortaleza, Brazil: a case--control study.
Fonseca W; Kirkwood BR; Victora CG; Fuchs SR; Flores JA; Misago C
Bulletin of the World Health Organization
Community-based hygiene education to reduce diarrhoeal disease in rural Zaire: impact of the intervention on diarrhoeal morbidity.
Haggerty PA; Muladi K; Kirkwood BR; Ashworth A; Manunebo M
International journal of epidemiology
The Imo State (Nigeria) Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Project, 2. Impact on dracunculiasis, diarrhoea and nutritional status.
Huttly SR; Blum D; Kirkwood BR; Emeh RN; Okeke N; Ajala M; Smith GS; Carson DC; Dosunmu-Ogunbi O; Feachem RG
Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Is it possible to predict which diarrhoea episodes will lead to life-threatening dehydration?
Victora CG; Kirkwood BR; Fuchs SC; Lombardi C; Barros FC
International journal of epidemiology
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