Jennifer Palmer


Assistant Professor


15-17 Tavistock Place
United Kingdom

+44 (0) 20 7927 2027

I am a medical anthropologist based in the Department of Global Health and Development. Previously, I helped establish and served as Co-Director of the Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre, which operates as a focus for LSHTM research and teaching on public health in humanitarian contexts.

Having entered academia through humanitarian practice, much of my research has taken place in humanitarian settings and is centred on humanitarian practice or its effects. An additional interest is in the control of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) including human African trypanosomiasis (HAT or sleeping sickness) and I serve on the steering committee for the global clinical trials HAT Platform. I received a PhD and MSc in Control of Infectious Diseases from LSHTM as well as a BSc, Hon in Microbiology & Immunology from McGill University.


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


Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre


I am Programme Co-Director for the MSc Control of Infectious Diseases. I also teach on several MSc modules at the School including Conflict & Health, Introduction to Disease Agents & their Control, and Neglected Tropical Diseases.

I supervise PhD and DrPH students at LSHTM who study (or have studied) a range of issues (including humanitarian coordination, epidemic decision-making, the role of health workers in humanitarian service delivery, vaccine uptake, risk perceptions, sleeping sickness technology engagements, disability, hygiene, reproductive health and gender-based violence) mainly in crisis-affected contexts including South Sudan, Uganda, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, DR Congo, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Iraq and Lebanon.


My fieldwork has primarily been undertaken in the South Sudan/Uganda border region, where I have studied the effects of conflict and humanitarian practice on healthcare since 2008.

My current fieldwork is focused on:

  • Healthcare livelihoods and local accountability in the humanitarian response for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda under LSHTM's RECAP project in collaboration with BRAC and YSAT
  • Building networks to integrate social science intelligence into humanitarian response in Uganda, South Sudan and globally with the Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform.
  • Community-based and other methods of surveillance of reportable diseases and mortality in crisis contexts including South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and Tigray, Ethiopia with funding from the USA's CDC and UK's FCDO.

Previously, I have collaborated with the University of Juba on an ethnography of policy change surrounding access to family planning and abortion services in South Sudan which complemented a broader DFID-funded evaluation of maternal health interventions in 14 countries of Africa and South Asia.

My work on trypanosomiasis has also focused on this region, beginning with PhD work funded by CIHR and the Sir Halley Stewart Trust on the legacy of conflict and displacement on community disease discourses, patient treatment-seeking and health worker diagnostic and referral practices in a sleeping sickness programme run by the NGO, Merlin, in Nimule, South Sudan. This work extended to understanding how trypanosomiasis knowledge and innovations have been shared across local, national and transnational networks from World War II to the present day under the European Research Council-funded INZI project based at the University of Edinburgh. A focus of this work took place in West Nile, Uganda in collaboration with the national control programme, the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and the University of Busitema to understand how new tools, such as rapid diagnostic tests, and new populations, such as refugees, are being integrated into the local health system. I also provided social science input to the EDCTP-funded DiTECT-HAT project, a clinical trial based at the Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) which seeks to validate the performance of trypanosomiasis diagnostic tools and algorithms in west and central Africa.

My other ongoing work on NTDs is through the LSHTM's NIHR-funded Skin Health Africa Research Programme (SHARP). With university partners from Ethiopia and Ghana, the programme aims to identify optimal strategies that improve the diagnosis, treatment and quality of life of people with neglected tropical diseases of the skin, including Buruli ulcer, leprosy and cutaneous leishmaniasis. I am a member of the London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research.

Additional previous research at LSHTM has included: a needs assessment of gender-based violence services for the humanitarian response in northern Mozambique with UNHCR; an investigation of the role of social scientists in outbreak response for the UK’s Rapid Support Team; a project funded by Sightsavers to map national eye health human resources and service provision in relation to VISION 2020 targets in sub-Saharan Africa; an ethnographic health systems project funded by Christian Blind Mission to explore local sustainability practices in eye care governance in Tanzania; a study on the sustainability of physical rehabilitation health systems in fragile states (Somaliland, Nepal, Cambodia, Sierra Leone & Liberia) with Handicap International; development of a method to estimate refugee/IDP populations using satellite imagery; and providing social science support on malaria projects with LSHTM's ACT Consortium.

Research Area
Health systems
Health workers
Disease control
Mixed methods
Implementation research
Qualitative methods
Operational research
Social Sciences
Disease and Health Conditions
Eye diseases
Infectious disease
African trypanosomiasis
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
South Sudan
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)

Selected Publications

Crisis in Sudan: Briefing Note on Displacement from Sudan to South Sudan
Pendle N; Palmer J; Parker M; Caesar Arkangelo N; Diu Gatket M; Moro L
Auditing the quality of epidemic decision-making in Somalia: a pilot evaluation.
Warsame A; Ore A; Azad A; Hassan F; Blanchet K; Palmer J; Checchi F
BMJ Open
Evaluating COVID-19 decision-making in a humanitarian setting: The case study of Somalia.
Warsame A; Fuje M; Checchi F; Blanchet K; Palmer J
PLoS Global Public Health
A rapid assessment of the gender-based violence (GBV) situation and response in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique
D'Odorico G; Hossain M; Jamal E; Scarpassa do Prado D; Roberts C; Palmer J
Understanding the Role of the Diagnostic 'Reflex' in the Elimination of Human African Trypanosomiasis.
Palmer JJ; Jones C; Surur EI; Kelly AH
\"Buruli ulcer and leprosy, they are intertwined\": Patient experiences of integrated case management of skin neglected tropical diseases in Liberia.
Prochazka M; Timothy J; Pullan R; Kollie K; Rogers E; Wright A; Palmer J
Humanitarian diagnostics for sleeping sickness in Uganda
Palmer J
Perceptions of oral cholera vaccine and reasons for full, partial and non-acceptance during a humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.
Peprah D; Palmer JJ; Rubin GJ; Abubakar A; Costa A; Martin S; Perea W; Larson HJ
Childhood disability in Turkana, Kenya: Understanding how carers cope in a complex humanitarian setting
Zuurmond M; Nyapera V; Mwenda V; Kisia J; Rono H; Palmer J
African Journal of Disability
Changing landscapes, changing practice: negotiating access to sleeping sickness services in a post-conflict society.
Palmer JJ; Kelly AH; Surur EI; Checchi F; Jones C
Social science & medicine (1982)
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