Professor Sally Theobald

Chair in Social Science and International Health

I have a disciplinary background in geography and development studies and a PhD in Gender, Health and Development. I am a social scientist with over 25 years’ experience of collaborative research projects focusing on strengthening health systems and equity in different contexts (including in fragility and in informal urban settlements) in Africa and Asia.

I work on the GCRF ARISE hub which focuses on promoting health and well-being in informal urban settlements in Bangladesh, India, Kenya and Sierra Leone. When COVID-19 hit, urban dwellers faced particular risks due to both disease and lockdowns and you can learn about our approach here. Like other global research projects we have also faced challenges with funding cuts and you can read more about the impact of this on our partners here.

I also work on health systems strengthening, equity, inclusion  and Severe stigmatising skin diseases and Neglected Tropical Diseases through the NIHR funded REDRESS programme in Liberia and the FCDO funded COUNTDOWN consortium. Other research interests include fragility and I work on gender, equity and justice in the FCDO ReBUILD for Resilience programme (in partnership with colleagues in Lebanon, Myanmar, Nepal and Sierra Leone). We also have a project on Optimising COVID-19 adaptations for ethical, equitable and quality delivery of essential health services and more resilient health systems with research and cross learning between Liberia and Merseyside; and a solidarity and fundraising partnership between Liverpool and Al-Sabeen baby and children’s hospital in Sana’a, Yemen.

I teach qualitative research and have successfully supervised 16 PhD students and have 4 current students who have all focus on health systems and equity in a variety of areas and contexts.

Current projects and grants

REDRESS: Reducing the Burden of Severe Stigmatising Skin Diseases through equitable person-centred approaches to health systems strengthening. (PI with Laura Dean as research director, Karsor Kollie as Liberia PI) National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research Innovations for Global Health Transformation (RIGHT) award.

ARISE The GCRF Accountability for Informal Urban Equity Hub, (PI with Rachel Tolhurst as research director) ARISE GCRF 2019-2024

ReBUILD for Resilience  (PIs Joanna Raven and Sophie Witter, I am co-I) FCDO 2020-2026

COUNTDOWN: Calling Time on Neglected Tropical Diseases, A programme of Implementation Research to Inform the Effective and Sustainable Scaling-Up of Integrated Neglected Tropical Disease Control Initiatives (advisor/support)  DFID 2014-2020

Other relevant expertise, professional memberships etc.

• Co-chair of the Executive Committee for Health Systems Research 2018 conference in Liverpool as part of Health Systems Global. A very successful conference with 2,400 participants from 146 countries. October, 2018.

• Invited to chair and present a session in parliament for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Neglected Tropical Diseases and Malaria. London October, 2018. 

• Chair of the Global Challenges Research Fund HORN (One Health for the Horn of Africa) Advisory Panel 2018-2022

Selected publications

  • Theobald S, Brandes N, Gyapong M, El-Saharty S, Proctor E, Diaz T, Wanji S, Elloker S, Raven J et al. 2018. Implementation research: new imperatives and opportunities in global health. The Lancet.

    Percival V.  Dusabe-Richards E. Wurie, H. Namakula, J.Ssali, S. & Theobald, S. (2018) Are health systems interventions gender blind? examining health system reconstruction in conflict affected states Globalization and Health201814:90

    Steege, R. Taegtmeyer, M. McCullom, R. Hawkins, K. Ormel, H. Kok, M. Rashid, S. Otiso, L. Sidat, M. Chikaphupa, K, Gemechu-Datiko, D. Ahmed, R. Rolhurst, R. Gomez, W & Theobald, S. (2018) How do gender relations affect the working lives of close to community health service providers? Empirical research, a review and conceptual framework, Social Science & Medicine Volume 209, July 2018, Pages 1-13

    Witter, S. Namakula, J. Wurie, H. Chriwa, Y. So, S. Vong, S. Ros, B, Buzuzi, S. & Theobald, S. The gendered health workforce:  mixed methods analysis from four fragile and post-conflict contexts, Health Policy and Planning. Volume 32, Issue suppl_5, 1 December 2017, Pages v52–v62, 

    Kamuya, D. Molyneux, S.& Theobald, S. “Gendered negotiations for research participation in community based studies in Kenya: Implications for health systems research” BMJ Global Health DOI: 10.1136/bmjgh-2017-000320 Published 7 June 2017