Jen Palmer is Deputy Director of the Health Humanitarian Crises Centre and a social scientist based part-time in the Maternal & Newborn Health Group within the Centre for Maternal Reproductive & Child Health (MARCH) at LSHTM. She is also based part-time at the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Jen is broadly interested in the implementation of health programmes in conflict-affected and emergency settings. Jen received a PhD and MSc in Control of Infectious Diseases from LSHTM as well as a BSc, Hon in Microbiology & Immunology from McGill University. She has also worked with non-governmental organisations in post-conflict and emergency contexts in Africa and Asia.
Jen pursues two main research streams: reproductive health and sleeping sickness, both predominantly in humanitarian crisis settings.
In collaboration with the University of Juba, Jen is conducting an ethnography of policy change surrounding access to family planning and abortion services which are key to reducing maternal deaths from unwanted pregnancy in South Sudan. This in-depth work complements a broader DFID-funded evaluation of maternal health interventions that she is supporting across 14 countries of Africa and South Asia. Jen is a visiting fellow at the University of Sussex's Centre for Cultures of Reproduction, Technologies and Health (CORTH).
Jen's sleeping sickness work at the University of Edinburgh, funded by the European Research Council, seeks to understand how knowledge and innovations have been shared across local, national and transnational networks to control the disease, from World War II to the present day. A focus of this work takes place in West Nile, Uganda and is in collaboration with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and the national control programme to understand how new tools, such as rapid diagnostic tests, and new populations, such as refugees, are being integrated into the local health system for elimination in West Nile.
Her PhD work combined anthropological and epidemiological methods to understand the legacy of conflict, displacement and humanitarian response on community disease discourses, patient treatment-seeking and health worker referral practices in the Nimule sleeping sickness focus of South Sudan. As an extension of this work, she conducted an intervention to train health workers at primary care facilities to recognise syndromic cases for referral. These projects were in collaboration with Medical Emergency Relief International (Merlin) and were funded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada. Jen is a member of the London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research.
Jen's previous research at LSHTM has included: a project funded by Sightsavers to map national eye health human resources and service provision in relation to VISION 2020 targets in sub-Saharan Africa; an ethnographic health systems project funded by Christian Blind Mission to explore local sustainability practices in eye care governance in Tanzania; a study on the sustainability of physical rehabilitation health systems in fragile states (Somaliland, Nepal, Cambodia, Sierra Leone & Liberia) with Handicap International; development of a method to estimate refugee/IDP populations using satellite imagery; and providing social science support on malaria projects with LSHTM's ACT Consortium.
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