Through multidisciplinary research and policy engagement we bring new understanding and action on critical issues around health and health systems, and how they overlap with other systems such as food, as well as nutrition, sanitation, epidemics and zoonotic diseases.  Enhancing understanding of how to ensure healthy lives for all is a vital part of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Agenda 2030) and has been an integral focus of IDS’ work since its inception.

Our research and analysis on innovations in health services and systems – including work on identifying effective strategies to address the challenges of antimicrobial resistance – is accelerating progress towards achieving universal health coverage in Asia and Africa. Our work on nutrition spans the spectrum from dietary transition and globalisation of food systems, through to responding to the ways that marginalisation and inequity drive high child malnutrition rates.  We bring vital social knowledge to aid effective preparedness and response on pandemics. We show how direct impacts on the spread of diseases such as Ebola can be achieved by bringing learning from research on social issues and contexts to the right people in the right organisations at the right time.  Together with our global partners, we are generating and sharing new knowledge and evidence to identify the underlying causes of poor health and social inequalities, and the progressive policies and practices that can help bring about transformative change.


Image of Gerald Bloom
Gerald Bloom

Research Fellow

Image of Hayley MacGregor
Hayley MacGregor

Research Fellow

Image of Nicholas Nisbett
Nicholas Nisbett

Cluster Leader Research Fellow

Image of Tom Barker
Tom Barker

Senior Health & Nutrition Convenor

Image of Annie Wilkinson
Annie Wilkinson

Research Fellow

Image of Linda Waldman
Linda Waldman

Director of Teaching and Learning

Image of Inka Barnett
Inka Barnett

Research Fellow

Programmes and centres



Mexico – Prosperity Fund Better Health Programme

The Prosperity Fund's Mexico programme aims to reduce poverty, improve gender equality and support inclusive economic development. It also aims to produce greater opportunities for global trade and investment, including between Mexico and the UK. The programme will help increase productivity,...

Recent work

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The Prosperity Fund in Mexico – building partnerships to improve health

The Prosperity Fund’s Better Health Programme in Mexico aims to improve health care in the country by promoting a more inclusive and evidence-based response to the growing challenge of prevention, treatment and management of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. It is...

19 February 2020


Social dimensions of the COVID-19 outbreak in China and beyond

IDS Director Professor Melissa Leach and Research Fellow Dr Hayley MacGregor have been working with colleagues at the Wellcome Trust and the WHO on integrating social sciences into the COVID-19 response, as the virus continues to cause concern globally. A new report has now been published on...

18 February 2020


Notes from the field: the village and the rainmaker troubled by climate change

During our fieldwork in Uganda for the Pandemic Preparedness project, nowhere else have we found a stronger belief in diviners, rainmakers, and sorcery than among the agrarian communities in Kasese district. Among the Bakonzo people the combination of their strong belief in rainmakers and...

Grace Akello & 2 others

12 February 2020

Journal Article

Identifying the Most Effective Essential Medicines Policies for Quality use of Medicines: A Replicability Study Using Three World Health Organisation Data-sets

Suboptimal (irrational, incorrect, inappropriate) use of medicines is widespread, wasteful, and causes poor patient outcomes including anti-microbial drug resistance [1–9]. Interventions to improve quality use of medicines (QUM) in low/middle-income countries have mostly been small-scale, of...

Kathleen Holloway & 6 others

6 February 2020


IDS at the World Urban Forum

We’re excited to be participating in the upcoming Tenth Session of the World Urban Forum (WUF10). Convened by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the World Urban Forum has become the premier international gathering for addressing the challenges of sustainable...

5 February 2020


Where is social science in the coronavirus response?

As the number of cases increase, with 6,065 confirmed cases and 132 deaths, we are learning more about coronavirus (nCoV) by the day and how it is spreading within China and globally. As crucial medical and epidemiological knowledge is being produced in real time, we believe that there is an...

31 January 2020


Notes from the field: Life for women living on an Ebola border

On the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda, separated only by the River Lhubhiriha, people share cultural, social, political and economic activities. Their lives flow across the border, for example, Congolese women constitute the highest proportion of women who give birth...

Grace Akello

16 January 2020