The UCL main library 1 December 2010 (A.J Picton)

Dr Tammam Aloudat تمّام العودات @Tammamo (a Syrian born, Syrian national working with Médecins Sans Frontières in Switzerland) co-authored a “roadmap” for decolonising global health. In a carol of eight tweets, he objected to my critique.

He objected to the suggestions that (i) the authorship of the “roadmap” for decolonising global health should not be situated in the global north and (ii) he and his co-authors were tone deaf for not understanding this.

Equity — fairness — is an underlying principle of global health. And yet the power within the global-health academic and practitioner space is wildly lopsided. The major…


A navigational chart from the Marshall Islands, on display at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. It is made of wood, sennit fiber and cowrie shells. From the collection of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. Date not known. Photo by Jim Heaphy. (Wikipedia; CC BY-SA 3.0)

There are a growing number of papers in the peer-reviewed literature about decolonising global health (see). Pascale Allotey and I have discussed the problem in terms of “trickle-down science”. That is, the way (global health) science is done, how it is prioritised, and who is advantaged by it. It is a description of science that is generally conceived and managed from powerful institutions in the global north, with implementing partners in the global south, their factories for data collection. We have also critiqued critiques that advocate a utopic version of global health, arguing that:

decolonising global health extends beyond relations…


Photo by niklas_hamann on Unsplash

After competence, are certitude, charisma and chutzpah the 3-Cs of research leadership?

When Rob Moodie was the CEO of the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) he started a “conversations in leadership” series for the recipients of VicHealth Public Health Research Fellowships. The idea was to begin an explicit process to develop research leadership in public health, drawing us together to think about the qualities that were necessary.

There were ten of us at the first gathering; two men and eight women. Beyond the fact that it was a meeting for “future leaders”, none of us knew what it was all…


Photo by Matthew Bennett on Unsplash

When I started my research career, a research leader’s retirement was a moment to celebrate. Their lives and their contributions were recalled through their research, their papers, their PhD graduates and Postdocs. The Festschrift was often published, literally celebrating their intellectual contribution to a field. Some of those researchers truly retired. Many took honorary appointments that gave them a desk or space in their old laboratory, and access to the library and email. They might mentor junior staff or be a part of a PhD student’s supervisory team. Many continued to do fabulous, original research. Others became the departmental raconteur…


Learning from a member of staff that she wants to leave can feel surprisingly hurtful. It can be particularly upsetting when he wants to stay within the organisation, just not in your unit.

As bosses, we very often spend far more time with our staff than we do with our own family or friends. We invest time and resources in their development. They become a part of our lives and our plans. When they announce their intention to leave, it can feel like rejection.

I thought you liked it here. You can’t leave now, I’ve invested too much in you…


Over a 20 year career in global health research, I have worked with some great researchers and some inspiring leaders. The leaders and the researchers were not necessarily the same people.

Two of the most thoughtful leaders I have known are Rob Macredie and Richard Parish, both of whom I met while working in the UK. They are not the only impressive leaders I have ever met. Setting them apart, however, was the extent to which they thought about leadership itself: how to lead and how to lead better. Some people do seem to be “natural leaders”, but as far…


Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

This is the first in a series of pieces I am writing on research leadership. The first in the series is a couple of articles devoted to conflicts of interest. I also want to explore ideas of organisational strategy, gender, who can lead, and with my interest in the global south, on funding, collaboration, and global leadership.

When I started to think about writing this series, I remembered one of the best books I had ever read on leadership, Be in Charge: A Leadership Manual. It was written by Alexander Margulis. During his career, Margulis was Professor of Radiology at…


I had an interesting experience the other day when a friend, Mark Cheong, and I submitted a letter to one of the leading health journals.

Mark, a Malaysian academic, had done his PhD on palliative care with a particular focus on the delivery of palliative care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). For about six months, he and I had been discussing the ethical challenge of delivering palliative care in LMICs. It is a pillar of Universal Health Coverage. …

Daniel D. Reidpath

Global health researcher based in Bangladesh

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