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Assistant Professor
Ligia Paina

Departmental Affiliations

Health Systems

Ligia Paina, PhD '14, MHS '08, studies how to improve health systems policies and programs so they provide equitable, quality care and are responsive to poor and marginalized communities.

Contact Info

615 N. Wolfe Street, Room E8646

Research Interests

health systems research; implementation research; human resources for health; migration; mobility; urban; policy analysis; systems thinking; research capacity development; governance; social accountability; patient-centered care; low and middle-income countries; Eastern Europe; Romania
Experiences & Accomplishments
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Albion College
I am a health system and policy researcher, with training in international studies and global public health systems. I am also a co-coordinator for the Health System Program's MSPH Degree.

My research and practice focus on understanding and managing the implementation of health systems strengthening programs to ensure responsive, equitable, and people-centered access to health services, particularly for vulnerable and under-served populations.

My work thus far spans across several topics: from removing barriers to access to maternal health services, to enhancing health systems responsiveness and social accountability, to supporting integrated planning for primary health care services, and more recently, collaborative urban governance to enhance participation of marginalized groups in health planning.

Using mixed methods and participatory approaches, I lead and support implementation research, monitoring and evaluation of complex health system policies and interventions, and policy analysis.

I currently teach “Systems thinking in public health: Applications of Key Methods and Approaches” (as well as an adaptation of the course on Coursera), "Organizing for Public Health: A Systems Approach", and "Systems Thinking: Concepts and Methods" at JHSPH. I also lead the systems thinking component of the Institute for Global Tobacco Control's Scholars Program.
Honors & Awards
Recognition for Teaching Excellence, Johns Hopkins University: Systems thinking in Public Health - Applications of Key Methods and Approaches (AY 2020-2021)
Albion College Top 10 in 2010 Young Alumni Award – 2010
USAID Global Health Bureau Exemplary Achievement – 2009
Albert Schweitzer Baltimore Fellowship – 2007-2008
Albion College Prentiss M. Brown Honors Institute Member – 2001-2005

2020 Johns Hopkins University Catalyst Award for Advancing Prospective Policy Analysis Methods
2019 Research award for young diaspora researchers: Unitatea Executiva pentru Finantarea Invatamantului Superior, a Cercetarii, Dezvoltarii, si Inovarii (UEFISCDI)
2014 Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars – Title VIII Short Term Fellowship: Eastern European Studies. Analysis of policies in Romania and Europe to incentivize health workers to enhance access for rural, underserved, and marginalized groups.
2011 Johns Hopkins Lipitz Policy Fund Public Health Policy Pilot Award
2010 Johns Hopkins School of Public Health - Health Systems Award
2006 Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Departmental Scholarship (duration of 2 years)
2006 John Snow Inc. Award in International Health
2004 Albion College Foundation for Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity
2002-03 Albion College President Bernard T. Lomas Project 250 Leadership Award
2001 Albion College Presidential Scholarship Recipient (duration of 4 years)
Select Publications
Selected publications
  • Glandon D*, Paina L & Hoe C. (2021). Reflections on benefits and challenges of longitudinal organisational network analysis as a tool for health systems research and practice. BMJ Global Health, 6(8). doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2021-005849
  • Paina L, Wilkinson A, Tetui M, Ekirapa-Kiracho E, Barman D, Ahmed T et al. Using Theories of Change to inform implementation of health systems research and innovation: experiences of Future Health Systems consortium partners in Bangladesh, India and Uganda. Health research policy and systems. 2017;15(2):109. doi:10.1186/s12961-017-0272-y.
  • Paina L, Ssengooba F, Waswa D, M'imunya JM, Bennett S. How does investment in research training affect the development of research networks and collaborations? Health Res Policy Syst. 2013 May 20;11:18.
  • Paina L, Peters DH. Understanding pathways for scaling up health services through the lens of complex adaptive systems. Health Policy Plan. 2012 Aug;27(5):365-73.
  • Paina L, Bennett S, Ssengooba F, Peters D. Advancing the application of systems thinking in health: exploring dual practice and its management in Kampala, Uganda Health Res Policy Syst. 2014 Aug 18;12(1):41
Project SOAR
African Health Diagnostics Platform (AHDP)
Political economy analysis of sub-national health management in Eastern and Southern Africa