Dr Joanna Raven


Joanna Raven is a health systems researcher who has over 20 years’ experience of research, training and partnerships in Africa and Asia.

The insights gained while working as a midwife in LMIC has ensured that her research is always relevant to these contexts. She has successfully managed multi-partner research grants, fostering research networks based on trust, innovation and high-level, quality outputs. She has a strong track record of developing capacity of researchers, managers and health workers and very effective communication skills which have helped build an extensive network in health systems research which maximizes research to policy and practice interface.  Joanna is currently a Reader in health systems research and leads the newly-launched Centre for Health Systems Research.

Her recent research has focused on fragile and conflict-affected settings and resource poor settings in the areas of: strengthening district-level health management, improving health workforce performance including formal and informal health workers, gender equity and scaling-up complex health system interventions. This portfolio is complemented by capacity strengthening for health systems researchers in LMICs.


Convenor of the Organisation and Management Module (TROP 708) of the MSc in International Public Health and contributes to the Human Resource Planning and Management (TROP 915), Key Themes in International Health and Health Policy (TROP 934), and the Advanced Skills in Tropical Disease Biology of the BSc in Tropical Medicine Biology. She also supervises student dissertations for Masters in International Public Health programme.

PhD students (current)

  • Shridhar Kadam: Factors influencing the performance of district health managers and its effect on performance of district health system in Odisha, India
  • Amuda Baba: Supporting midwives to improve maternal health outcomes in fragile contexts: case study of rural Ituri Province, DR Congo.


  • ARISE - Accountability for Informal Urban Equity Hub. GCRF, £13 million, 2019 – 2023.  Role: Co-Investigator.  
  • PERFORM2Scale - Strengthening management at the district level to support the achievement of Universal Health Coverage. EU Horizon 2020, Euros 7.5million, 2017-2021. Role: Research director.
  • RECAP-SL - Institutional capacity development for multi-disciplinary health research to support the health system rebuilding phase in Sierra Leone. EDCTP, $250,000, 2016-2018. Role: Principal Investigator.
  • Improving neonatal health in remote rural areas in China and Vietnam. MRC/ESRC/Wellcome Trust/DFID, £68,645 2014-2015. Role: Co-Principal Investigator.
  • ReBUILD - Research for building pro-poor health systems during recovery from conflict in Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Northern Uganda, and Zimbabwe. DfID, £8,000,000, 2011-2019. Role: Co-Investigator.
  • PERFORM - Supporting decentralised management to improve health workforce performance in Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania. EU FP7, Euros 2,995,323, 2011-2015. Role: Co-Investigator.
  • Empowering district-level managers to improve Health Worker Performance in Nepal. WHO IRP, US$248,456, 2013-2015. Role: Co-Investigator.
  • MATIND - Large scale innovative pro-poor programs focused on reducing maternal mortality in India: a proposal for impact evaluation. EU FP7, Euros 368,415, 2011-2015. Role: Co-Investigator.
  • Supporting community health workers in community-directed health interventions in Africa: a preliminary investigation. WHO/TDR, $115,500, 2013-2014. Role: Co-Investigator.
  • Making it Happen – Capacity Development of Human Resources for Maternal and Newborn Health. DfID £4,000,000, 2009-2011. Role: Co-Investigator.
  • RHINCAV - Bringing health care to the vulnerable - developing equitable and sustainable rural health insurance in China and Vietnam. EU FP6, Euros 1,619,096, 2005-2009. Role: Co-Investigator.
  • CHIMACA - Structural obstacles to and promoters of good maternal care in rural China. EU FP6, Euros 1,500,000, 2005-2009. Role: Co-Investigator.

Selected publications

  • Chaturvedi S, De Costa A, Raven J. 2015. Does the Janani Suraksha Yojana cash transfer program to promote facility births in India ensure skilled birth attendance? A qualitative study of intrapartum care in Madhya Pradesh. Global Health Action 8;27427. http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/gha.v8.27427[JR1] 

    Raven J, van den Broek N, Tao F, Kun H, Tolhurst R. 2015. The quality of childbirth care in China: women's voices: a qualitative study. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2015 May 14;15(1):113.

    Chaturvedi S, Upadhyay S, De Costa A, Raven J. 2015. Implementation of the partograph in India’s JSY cash transfer programme for facility births: a mixed methods study in Madhya Pradesh province. BMJ Open 2015;5:e006211. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014- 006211

    Hufton E, Raven J. 2014. Exploring the infant feeding practices of immigrant women in the North West of England: a case study of asylum seekers and refugees in Liverpool and Manchester. Maternal and Child Nutrition 2014 Sep 19. doi: 10.1111/mcn.12145. [JR2] 

    Raven J, Martineau T, MacPherson E, Baba Dieu-Merci A, Ssali S, Torr S, Theobald S. 2014. Fragile and conflict affected states: report from the Consultation on Collaboration for Applied Health Research and Delivery. Conflict and Health 8; 15.

    Roome E, Raven J, Martineau T. 2014. Human resource management in post-conflict health systems: review of research and knowledge gaps. Conflict and Health 8; 18. doi: 10.1186/1752-1505-8-18. 

    Mshelia C, Huss R,  Mirzoev T, Elsey H, Baine SO, Aikins M,  Kamuzora P, Bosch-Capblanch X, Raven J, Wyss K, Green A, Martineau T. 2013 Can action research strengthen district health management and improve health workforce performance? A research protocol. BMJ Open 3: e003625. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003625

    Huang K, Tao F, Faragher B, Raven J, Tolhurst R, Tang S, van den Broek N (2013) A mixed-method study of factors associated with differences in caesarean section rates at community level: The case of rural China. Midwifery 29 (8):911-20. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2012.11.003.

    Hemminki E, Long Q, Zhang WH, Wu Z, Raven J, Tao F, Yan H, Wang Y, Klemetti R, Zhang T, Regushevskaya E, Tang S (2013) Impact of Financial and Educational Interventions on Maternity Care: Results of Cluster Randomized Trials in Rural China, CHIMACA. Maternal and Child Health Journal 17; 2: 208-21.

    Ameh C, Msuya S, Hofman J, Raven J, Mathai M, van den Broek N (2012) Status of Emergency Obstetric Care in Six Developing Countries Five Years before the MDG Targets for Maternal and Newborn Health. PLoS ONE 7; 12: e49938.

    Kun H, Tao F, Raven J, Liu L, Wu X, Tang S (2012) Utilization of antenatal ultrasound scan and implications for caesarean section: a cross-sectional study in rural Eastern China. BMC Health Services Research 12; 93.

    Raven J, Tolhurst R, Tang S, van den Broek N (2012) What is quality in maternal and neonatal health care? Midwifery 28: 5: 2676-83. 

    Wu Z, Lei P, Hemminki E, Xu L, Tang S, Li X, Raven J, Gao J, Tolhurst R (2011) Changes and Equity in Use of Maternal Health Care in China: from 1991 to 2003. Maternal and Child Health Journal 16; 2: 501-9.

    Raven J, Utz B, Roberts D, van den Broek N (2011) The Making it happen programme in Bangladesh and India. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gyneacology 118; S2: 100-3.

    Long Q, Zhang YG, Raven J, Wu Z, Bogg L Tang S, Hemminki E (2011) Giving birth at a health-care facility in rural China: is it affordable for the poor? Bulletin of World Health Organisation 89; 2: 144-152.

    Raven J, Hofman J, Adegoke A, van den Broek N (2011) Methodology and tools for quality improvement in maternal and newborn health care. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 114; 1: 4-9.

    Fei Y, Raven J, Wei W, Tolhurst R, Kun Z, Baorong Y, Collins C (2011) Management capacity and health insurance: the case of the New Cooperative Medical Scheme in six counties in rural China. International Journal of Health Planning and Management 26; 4: 357-78.

    Tao F, Huang K, Long X, Tolhurst R, Raven J (2010) Low postnatal care rates in two rural counties in Anhui Province, China: Perceptions of key stakeholders. Midwifery 27; 5: 707-715.

    Klemetti R, Che X, Yan G, Raven J, Wu Z, Tang S, Hemminki E (2010) Caesarean sections among primiparous women in rural China: an emerging epidemic. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 202; 1: 65.e1-6.

    Verheijen EC, Raven JH, Hofmeyr GJ (2009) Fundal pressure during the second stage of labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009, Oct 7; 4: CD006067.

    Gao J, Raven JH, Tang S (2007) Hospitalisation among the elderly in urban China Health Policy 84: 210–219.

    Raven JH, Chen QY, Tolhurst R and Garner P (2007) Traditional beliefs and practices in the postpartum period in Fujian Province, China: a qualitative study BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2007, 7:8.

    Theobald S, Raven J, Tolhurst R, Makwiza I, Taegtmeyer M (2006) Public health approach to HIV treatment in resource-poor settings. The Lancet, 368 (9541):1064.