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



Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform

The Social Science in Humanitarian Action Platform aims to establish networks of social scientists with regional and subject expertise to rapidly provide insight, analysis and advice, tailored to demand and in accessible forms, to better design and implement the social and communication...


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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Impacts of Covid-19 on Inclusive Economic Growth in Middle-income Countries

K4D Helpdesk Report 811

This helpdesk report reviews available evidence on impacts from previous epidemics, financial crises and emerging evidence from Covid-19 on inclusive growth in middle-income countries. Covid-19 is likely to cause much greater economic damage than any recent disease outbreak or economic crisis....

11 May 2020


Strengthening water security for pandemic preparedness

Outbreaks of zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19 may increase in the future due to human drivers such as deforestation and climate change, in turn creating the potential for more pandemics. Sustainable access to adequate quantities of acceptable quality water will be essential to prevent,...

Rachel Cooper

7 May 2020


COVID-19: Why Are Prisons a Particular Risk, and What Can Be Done to Mitigate this?

This brief provides key considerations related to COVID-19 in the context of prisons, jails and similar detention facilities (referred to collectively in this brief as “prisons”). It summarises the particular risks associated with an outbreak of COVID-19 in prisons in low-and middle-income...

Leslie Jones
Olivia Tulloch

6 May 2020


Insights from health systems under stress

Health systems around the world are straining under the impact of Covid-19. As the pandemic progresses it is evident that there is much for health systems across the world to learn from each other from these shared experiences, and that when a global pandemic hits the differences between high,...

30 April 2020


China and the future of global health governance

The Covid-19 pandemic is the latest – though most significant - in a series of disease outbreaks and we can expect others in the future. Rapid changes in the global economy, major population movements, environmental exposure to health risks and climate-related shocks are likely to require...

29 April 2020