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Health Systems Program

Ethics, Equity, and Gender

Ethics, Equity, and Gender in the Health Systems Program

A key priority of our research in health systems is to ensure and support social justice measures alongside health impacts, particularly for marginalized communities. We work to mitigate inequalities in access to health services and promote health equity.

In our research, service, and teaching, we emphasize the need to understand and address a wide range of ethical challenges relevant to public health practice and research in low- and middle-income countries. Our faculty study how to maximize the benefit of public health research and practice, while developing appropriate risk mitigation strategies, especially when our work involves vulnerable populations. Faculty also partner with institutions globally to support the development and operation of ethics training programs and seek to improve collective understandings for what it means to be respectful and effective health system researchers and public health professionals.

Our faculty also specialize in gender and health systems, studying how gendered power relations create inequities within different areas of the health system and how the intersection of social stratifiers—such as gender, age, race and ethnicity—leads to different experiences of disadvantage and marginalization within the health system. Our research in this domain encompasses both clients using the health system as well as those working in the health system.

Examples of Latest Projects

Johns Hopkins University-Addis Ababa University Research Ethics Training Program: JHU-AAU RETP is a U.S. National Institutes of Health, Fogarty International Center-funded partnership designed to support individual and institutional research ethics capacity at AAU. The program has a central emphasis on creating a new track in research ethics within AAU’s MPH program and training cohorts of trainees within the program, providing academic and research mentorship.

Assessing social justice in economic evaluation to scale up novel MDR-TB regimens: Funded by the US National Institutes of Health, this study of people’s experiences with treatment for multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) combined philosophical inquiry and qualitative research. The study team used their findings to develop a step-by-step analytic technique for assessing social justice in health policy decisions alongside traditional measures of clinical risk-benefit and health equity.

Latest News

Making Women and Girls Visible: Gender Data for Decision Making
Exemplars News | November 2022
To coincide with the International Family Planning Conference in Thailand, Exemplars News spoke with Anju Malhotra about how data can inform and accelerate gender equality.

Low-Carbon Health Care Done Right
BSPH Magazine | September 2022
When Maria Merritt, PhD, an associate professor in International Health and in the Berman Institute of Bioethics, learned last year of the immensity of health care’s climate impact, she was shocked. Although she’d long been a proponent of sustainability and environmental activism, the scope of this problem and its clear connection to issues of social justice in public health caught her attention. Now, she’s exploring approaches to ethical decision-making to ensure that community members—in particular those who already face disadvantages and health inequities—are not inadvertently harmed as health care systems work to decarbonize. 

How COVID-19 Mitigation Measures Disproportionately Impacted Women and Girls
BSPH News | July 2022
The global lockdowns at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives. Shutting down businesses, public gatherings, and other establishments slowed the transmission of the virus during a time when very little was known.

Meet our ethics, equity, and gender faculty

Joseph Ali
Assistant Professor
International Health

Joseph Ali, JD, studies how to conduct global public health research and practice that maximally respects ethical values in an increasingly interconnected digital world.

Rosemary Morgan
Associate Scientist
International Health

Rosemary Morgan, PhD, MSc, studies the role of gender inequities on health, wellbeing, and public health interventions.