Health Systems

Knowledge is strengthDr Lucia D’Ambruoso leads of programme of research supported by the Health Systems Research Initiative from the MRC, ESRC, Wellcome Trust. The research addresses recent estimates that two-thirds of the world's deaths pass unrecorded, by improving systems to record and report on deaths that occur outside clinics or without registration.

Through improved data, the work aims to improve the ability health systems to respond to the needs of vulnerable and excluded populations through partnership approaches with communities and researchers.

Sickle Cell Anaemia Services for Children and Families

Project title: Evaluating opportunities and barriers to establishing an autonomous and functional sickle cell anaemia (SCA) unit in Cabinda, Angola.
Funder: University of Aberdeen GCRF Pump-Priming and Impact Accelerator Fund
Duration: 1/11/2020 – 31/07/2021 
Chief Investigator: Professor Lesley Anderson
UoA Co-investigators: Dr Lucia D’Ambruoso
Other Co-investigators: Dr Joao Camanda, Dr Francisco Antonio Macongo Chocolate, Dr Ruben Buco, Dr Lynne Lohfeld

Food Poverty

Seaton food bankFood poverty/insecurity has attracted interest in the UK in recent years following an increase in the numbers of people who have turned to community-based, charitable organisations to feed themselves. In 2013/14, it was estimated that 20,247,042 free meals were distributed to people living in the UK. Food bank use is at the centre of an ideological dispute as to its cause, but many regard this as an indication of wider problems.

Lucia D’Ambruoso leads a study in North East Scotland learning from promising practices in and models of meaningful community participation, power and decision-making within the local health system in terms its response to the public health issue of food poverty. This is an international case study commissioned by the Training and Research Support Centre (TARSC) within the ‘Shaping Health’ initiative – supported by the Johnson Wood Foundation.

The overarching aim of the initiative is to gather substantive evidence on promising practices in and models of community participation, power and decision-making in health systems from selected high, middle and low income countries.

Global Development

Professor Pamela Abbott is a medical sociologist who has worked extensively in Rwanda advising the government of health systems strengthening and playing a key role in the development of the higher education system.

Professor Abbott currently leads a programme of research political and social transformations in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq on Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq. Its aim is to understand and evaluate political, social, and economic transformations before and after the Arab Uprisings of 2010-2011 to inform policy with regard to political and social change in the Arab countries.

Professor Abbott is also the Director of the University’s Centre for Global Development, a centre of excellence committed to equity, social justice and sustainable futures.

Maternal Health

Professor Wendy Graham is the Director of the Soapbox Collaborative, a group addressing clean and safe care at birth to reduce maternal and newborn deaths, and accelerate progress towards global goals of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. Soapbox’s work will also help to catalyse wider improvements in the quality of maternity care, increase demand for care, and protect health workers.

Prior to this work, Professor Graham led the Initiative for Maternal Mortality Programme Assessment (Immpact), a mulit-centre research programme to inform and influence policy, governance and practice, improve quality of care and strengthen capacity for maternal and child health in low and middle income countries.


Professor Cairns Smith has played a significant role in the global elimination of leprosy. Through his work in research and policy development, over 14 million patients have been treated resulting in a 90% reduction in case-load. In 2006 Prof Smith was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in recognition of services to public health.

Professor Smith now works to sustain and enhance leprosy control activities to reduce the burden of disease through research and policy. Professor Smith also continues to teach, supervise, advise and mentor students at the University of Aberdeen.