Dr Bassey Ebenso

Dr Bassey Ebenso


As a medical doctor and interdisciplinary researcher, I have over 30 years of experience in global health focusing on health policy and systems strengthening in low- and middle-income contexts. I spent the first 15 years of his scientific career in management positions in disease control programmes in Nigeria and the Niger Republic, including working as Country Director of an international organisation. These roles heightened his interest and expertise in health systems, policy formulation and human resources management.

In my later career, I joined the Nuffield Centre for International Health and Development as a Research Fellow in 2013, focused on addressing global health challenges and making healthcare fairer through developing collaborative health systems and services research programmes with partners from African and Asian countries. My work on developing guidelines and toolkits for reducing health-related stigma has contributed to national and international policy changes leading to wide-scale consideration and implementation of stigma-reduction interventions in many parts of the world. 

Another stream of my work involves understanding how harnessing and implementing digital health strategies can strengthen health systems in resource-constrained countries can expand access to healthcare services and improve health outcomes. Aspects of this work involve using digital technology to develop services for improving care delivery for patients with advanced cancer and progressive illnesses in low- and middle-income settings. My most recent work on workforce capacity strengthening is currently informing the World Health Organization’s approach to community engagement implementation research.

My research has been supported by funders including Google, the European Commission, EuropeAid, the UK Space Agency, and UK Research Councils (e.g. MRC, ESRC, DfID/FCDO). I have substantial teaching experience at under- and post-graduate levels at the University of Leeds, supervising taught postgraduate and PhD students as well as external examining in other universities.

Professional esteem indicators

  • Member of Climate and Health Steering Group (University of Leeds)
  • External PhD examiner at University College London, the University of Portsmouth (UK) and the Free University, Amsterdam.
  • Reviewer for the British Council-Newton Fund
  • Reviewer for the Medical Research Council’s Health Systems Research Initiative

Grants Awarded

  1. UKRI GCRF and Newton Consolidation Accounts (Oct 2022-March 2023, £50,000): Optimisation of a digital health approach to support continuity of palliative care for refugee populations in Uganda
  2. Worldwide Universities Network (Oct 2022-Sept 2023, £18,000): Supporting nurses' palliative care education in Ghana, Uganda, New Zealand and UK (Co-I)
  3. European Commission (July 2022-May 2026, EUR 6.0 Million): One-Health approaches to supporting agroecological transformation of peri-urban farming in six African countries (Co-I and WP Lead)
  4. Data4COVID-19 Africa Challenge (May-Oct 2021, EUR 83,811): Understanding facilitators and barriers to compliance with non-pharmaceutical COVID-19 preventive measures in Nigeria (Co-I)
  5. WHO (Sept 2020-Dec 2021, US$105,377): Capacity Strengthening of country teams to prototype and test community engagement interventions in Western Pacific Region
  6. EPSRC (April 2020-March 2021; £149,209) Partnerships for equity and Inclusion (Co-I)
  7. DfID/FCDO (Feb 2020-Jan 2026; £7.9 Million): Strengthening Urban Health Systems in Bangladesh, Ghana, Nepal and Nigeria. (Co-I)
  8. Research England (Dec 2018-July 2019; £98,741). Extending the reach of digital technologies to advance palliative cancer care delivery in low- and middle-income settings (PI)
  9. MRC (Dec 2018-Nov 2019; £199,425). Understanding data and information needs for palliative cancer care in Uganda and Zimbabwe (Co-I) 
  10. University of Leeds (Oct 2018-July 2019; £5,000): "Smart Nappies": A clinician-led intervention study using material embedded immuno-sensor technology for diagnosing infections (Co-I)
  11. UK Space Agency (March 2017-March 2019; £370,508). "Impact of Extending Health services to remote populations in Nigeria using satellite communication (Co-I and WP Lead)
  12. ESRC (Jan 2017-Nov 2018; £149,000). Socially Inclusive Cities project (Co-I)
  13. Wellcome Trust (Aug 2017-Jan 2020; £114.500). Supervisor of Master's Fellowship Grant in Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Evaluation of Evidence-Informed Decision-making Network in Malawi (EvIDeNt) using policy analysis and prospective case study. Grant sponsor: Prof. Stephen Gordon. 
  14. EuropeAid (Feb 2016-Dec 2019; EURO1.8 Million). Building the capacity of civil society organizations to function as change-makers for challenging stigma against people affected by leprosy in India (PI for Leeds)
  15. The Leprosy Mission International (Sept 2006-Sept 2007; £10,000). Evaluating the impact of stigma-reduction interventions on leprosy-related stigma in 5 communities in Nigeria (PI)

Current and previous roles

  • Research Director on CHORUS RPC: Strengthening Urban Health Systems in Bangladesh, Ghana, Nepal and Nigeria
  • Research Fellow on "EXTEND Project": Impact of extending basic health services to rural areas of Nigeria using satellite communication technology. March 2017-March 2019
  • Research Fellow on "RESPOND project": Creating responsive health systems that use patient feedback to improve quality assurance and human resource management in Bangladesh: January 2017-June 2018
  • Research fellow on "REVAMP Project": Determinants of effectiveness and sustainability of a novel community health workers programme in improving maternal and child health in Nigeria June 2015-June 2020.
  • Teaching Fellow in International Public Health: November 2014-May 2015
  • Research Fellow on ‘Developing and testing of new methodologies to monitor and evaluate health-related EU-Funded interventions in developing countries (EVAL-Health)’ project 2013-2014

Current research interests

My research interests are in health policy and systems strengthening in Africa, Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean Region. In particular:

  • Human resource strengthening
  • Realist methods
  • Community engagement
  • Maternal and child health care
  • Digital health technologies for healthcare
  • Organization of health services in low and middle-income countries
  • Immigrant health
  • Communicable diseases
  • Neglected Tropical Diseases
  • Health-related stigmatization

Current and recent research

I work on a number of collaborative research projects including:

  • REVAMP project in Mother and Child Health (MCH), between the University of Leeds and with the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus. The project is exploring the determinants of effectiveness and sustainability of community health workers programmes associated with MCH in Nigeria.
  •  RESPOND project, in creating responsive health systems, between the University of Leeds and the ARK Foundation of Bangladesh. The project aims to assist policymakers to make Bangladesh’s health system more responsive through a) assessing current systems of collecting and responding to user feedback and b) designing an intervention to improve utilisation of user feedback in quality assurance and human resource management.
  • EXTEND project, in raising the standards of healthcare provision using satellite communication, between the University of Leeds, Inmarsat Global Ltd. and InStrat Global Solutions Ltd. The project aims to understand the extent to which and under what circumstances, extending e-Health innovations to remote areas in Nigeria, contributes to improved health systems functions and to achieving health outcomes. 
  • He recently completed work on a research and development project (EVAL-HEALTH) funded with support from the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7 Health). The main goal of EVAL-Health project is strengthening the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) mechanism of the European Union (EU) funded health interventions in developing countries.

PhD supervision

I welcome enquiries from students wishing to explore health policy and health systems strengthening in low- and middle-income countries, and also PhDs in the following substantive areas:

  • Health inequalities in small island development states (SIDS) of the Caribbean
  • Using digital technology as a health systems strengthening tool
  • Capacity building approaches for health workers
  • Organization of health services in low and middle-income countries
  • Social aspects of tropical diseases
  • Health-related stigmatization

Current PhD students

  1. Francis Poitier (primary supervisor, together with Reinhard Huss and Jörg Wiegratz). Research title:  Gendered Health in Small Island Developing States--A case study of obesity in The Bahamas
  2. Emmanuel Leshak (primary supervisor, together with Cathy Brennan and Matthew Allsop). Research title: Psycho-social impacts of community-based management of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in Nigeria 
  3. Suliman Alomran (primary supervisor, together with Cathy Brennan). Research title: Health Information systems in Saudi Arabia: A realist Review
  4. Eme Asuquo (With Matthew Allsop and Kate Absolom) Research title: The provision of breast cancer survivorship care in sub-Saharan Africa.
  5. Chinwe Uzokwe (with Prof Janet Cade) Research title: Dietary assessment methods used in the management of type-2 diabetes in Nigeria 

Professional activities

2018-Present: Peer-reviewer for African Journal of Disability

2017-Present: Peer-review for BMC Global Health Research and Policy

2017-Present: Peer-review for BMJ Global Health

2016-Present: Peer-reviewer for PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

2015-Present: peer-reviewer for BMC Public Health

2015-Present: peer-reviewer for BMC Health Services Research

2014-Present: peer-reviewer for BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care

2013–present: peer-reviewer for Leprosy Review

2012–present: peer-reviewer for Journal of African Cultural Studies

2012–present: Fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health

2009–present: Member of the Society for Applied Anthropology

1991–present: Member of the Nigerian Medical Association


  • Member of the Climate and Health Steering Group
  • Director of Intercalated BSc International Health Programme
  • Deputy Director of MSc International Health Programme

Research interests

  • IGlobal Health
  • Health systems strengthening in low and middle-income countries
  • Communicable diseases
  • Non-communicable diseases
  • Neglected tropical diseases
  • Community engagement approaches
  • Capacity strengthening of healthcare workforce
  • Chronic stigmatizing conditions.


  • PhD in Sociology – University of Leeds
  • MPH (International) – University of Leeds
  • MB BCh – University of Calabar, Nigeria

Professional memberships

  • Member of the Nigerian Medical Association
  • Member of the Society for Applied Anthropology
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health

Student education

I teach a range of topics on International Health:

  • Key Issues in International Health 
  • Programmatic Responses to Communicable Diseases
  • Policy and Systems topics including the role of policy on health-related stigma;
  • Qualitative Research Methodology 
  • Applying cutting-edge research to teaching

Research groups and institutes

  • Research at the Nuffield Centre of International Health and Development
  • Leeds Institute of Health Sciences
  • International health research

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>