Working to Advance Health Equity in Africa


A message from our Executive Director

HEARD occupies an important interface between research, policy, and advocacy; working with research and advocacy groups to generate innovative ideas and also ensuring these ideas are turned into practical policies to overcome the enormous burden of disease in Africa. The organisation’s longevity, influence and esteem are some indication of the strategic success of the organisation to adapt to the changing landscape of Africa’s health needs and responses. The challenge is to sustain the achievements of the past in another period of change in global health.

For the past 17 years we have examined the economic case for some of Africa’s most enduring health conditions including HIV and AIDS, gender vulnerabilities, adolescent health and intimate partner violence, health disabilities, particularly those related to medication for chronic diseases. We have studied the effectiveness of public health campaigns targeting HIV prevention and adolescent sexual health issues, examined health systems and ways of strengthening them, and compared the costs and benefits of hundreds of health related interventions to influence policy. In the process we have partnered with a range of actors to leverage comparative advantages in advancing health equity in Africa.

Going forward, the organisational priority for HEARD is to align our strategy to the key challenges outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals. We will design, generate and disseminate implementation science around HIV prevention and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. Research areas include maternal and child health, legal and illegal abortions, health policy and economics, and gender inequalities. We are also working with leading regional NGOs to map, analyse and, where appropriate, use evidence to advocate for the rights of vulnerable groups such as people living with disabilities and the LGBTI communities in Africa.

Professor Nana Poku

Executive Director and Professor of Health Economics


Our work

HEARD conducts research on the socio-economic aspects of public health, especially the African HIV and AIDS pandemic. The organisation has an Africa-wide mandate with research applicable across the region that impacts on regional policies and programmes.

HEARD conceives of, conducts, and disseminates innovative trans-disciplinary research to influence public health policy and practice in Africa, with a particular emphasis on engaging decision-makers. Its unique intellectual orientation arises from a recognition that no single discipline or mode of expertise on its own can successfully address deeply impacted health issues, which are never simply bio-medical, but often entail socio-cultural determinants of behaviour, health systems funding and organisation, and the full range of development issues.

HEARD is uniquely equipped and poised to combine data and insights from both science and politics; and to inform both research and practice. It draws on the interests and knowledge of significant actors on all sides and at every level, enabling knowledge sharing and flows of information to facilitate socially beneficial policies and programmes.