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Lewis Husain

Health and Nutrition Cluster Lead

I am an IDS Research Fellow, Co-convenor of the IDS Health and Nutrition Cluster, and member of the IDS China Centre. My work has straddled research and consultancy for government agencies, UN agencies, and INGOs. I am principally a China specialist, with twenty years’ experience of work in/on China.

My main areas of work include:

  • China domestic health and development issues, and China’s increasing global health and development engagement
  • How to deal with global challenges in a world of increasing geopolitical rivalry and deteriorating relations between China and the west
  • How countries manage complex health system reforms, policy experimentation and learning, and institutional innovation as part of change management processes
  • Evaluation of complex health/development interventions in LMICs

I am also supporting the development of workstreams on climate change and health, and use of futures methodologies, at IDS and as part of the work of the Health and Nutrition Cluster.

China-related work

I have worked either in or on China since 2001, when I did a placement in a remote county in southwestern China. My China-related work has spanned business-related consultancy, academic research on China’s domestic health and social reforms, and consultancy for government, UN agencies, and INGOs on a range of domestic and international China-related issues. Examples include:

– China and global health: I was lead on the evaluation of DFID’s China-UK Global Health Support Programme, subsequently consulted for DFID on strategy, and worked with WHO’s China Office on strategy for engaging China on global health. This remains an important area of work, and in the last two years I have consulted for the EU on China and global health, researched China’s R&D for new antimicrobials and potential contribution to global efforts in the context of increasing AMR, and researched China’s domestic malaria policy in international perspective (link).

– China and domestic health issues: My PhD looked at local government implementation and innovation in reform of the rural health insurance system. I continue to publish on China’s domestic reforms, with recent articles in BMJ Global Health on how national research institutes can facilitate learning during healthcare policy piloting in China (link), on how China has developed capacities to manage complex health system reforms (link), and China’s rapid experimentation with digital health solutions during COVID (link).

In addition to work focused directly on China, I am increasingly working on the challenges posed by deteriorating relations between China and western countries. I am concerned about the question of how effective working arrangements on major global challenges can be achieved despite deteriorating relations. Colleagues and I argue that we need to understand both the challenges of engagement and the potential consequences of not having effective relations with China on issues such as climate, pandemics, food and agriculture, and antimicrobial resistance.

Evaluation and consulting

I have worked on evaluations for HMG, UN agencies, and INGOs over the last ten years, both as team lead, and as an individual consultant. All evaluations have been multi-method, utilization-focused evaluations intended to provide actionable findings to guide decision making. Examples:

– 2019-2020: Team lead / Deputy, strategic evaluation of MacArthur Foundation’s support to China in climate change, focusing on development of emissions trading schemes.

  • – 2014-2018: Team lead on evaluation of 12m GBP DFID China-UK Global Health Support Programme, supporting Chinese global health engagement.
  • – 2016-2017: Team lead on evaluation of a 15m USD Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) programme on co-control of air pollutants and GHGs in China.
  • – Consultant on evaluation of UK’s Fleming Fund on strengthening global response to AMR. Country lead for Vietnam and Bangladesh case studies.
  • – Evaluation of NICE International and iDSI on implementation of clinical pathways, evidence-informed health priority setting, and health technology assessment in China.
  • – Consultancy for UNICEF and UNWOMEN on China programmes.



IDS China Centre

The IDS China Centre, part of the IDS International Initiatives, provides research focus on a country transforming global geopolitics due to its strategic importance, role in the global south and its commitment to development. It recognises that tackling universal challenges such as climate...



Engaging China on global challenges: responding to the Integrated Review 2023

The long-awaited refresh to the UK Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (the Integrated Review, or IR) was published yesterday, two years on from the first version. The IR is the preeminent guiding document on the way the UK sees relations with China at a time...

14 March 2023



Engaging China in Global Efforts to Develop New Antimicrobials

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an increasingly important global health threat, but the pipeline of new antimicrobials under development is inadequate. Developing new antimicrobials is risky, with little financial reward, prompting calls for governments to adopt novel industrial and innovation...

1 May 2022

Lewis Husain’s recent work