Meet our PhD Candidates

The Nossal Institute is a leading applied, multidisciplinary health systems institute.

The Institute has a unique focus on applied health strengthening research, teaching and advisory work.

Our multidisciplinary researchers, work with partners in the Asia and Pacific regions developing evidence to inform, influence and implement health systems reforms, strategies and programs. Our research aims to understand the determinants of health and to contribute to health improvement for all populations, locally and globally, especially those who are most disadvantaged. We produce high-impact research to address inequities, improve health outcomes and strengthen systems.

Nossal Institute PhD Candidates work with our internationally recognised experts in global health to produce high-impact research to address inequities, improve health outcomes and strengthen systems.

Meet our current PHD candidates

Previous PHD research

2022 Completions

  • Towards improving the quality of maternal and newborn care in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea -Dr Alyce Wilson

    Quality care improves maternal and newborn health outcomes. Quality maternal and newborn care refers to the provision of evidence-based and respectful care to women and newborns by experienced and competent healthcare providers in a well-equipped and supportive environment. There is a need to prioritise improving the quality of maternal and newborn care globally, especially in low- and middle-income countries, such as Papua New Guinea, where women and newborns experience high rates of morbidity and mortality during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period

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2021 Completions

  • Regulation by Competition and health-seeking behaviour for a range of women’s and children’s health services among informal providers in Bangladesh - Dr Herfina Yohanna Nababan

    Although Bangladesh has achieved significant progress in health in the past decades, excess morbidity and mortality persist. Informal providers are widespread; they remain the primary source of health care for many Bangladeshi, despite an inadequate knowledge base to provide care that meets the minimum quality standard of a modern health service. Profit-making orientation often prompts them to deliver unnecessary or even harmful care. On the other hand, the public health sector is perceived to be of low quality, hindering people from using this formal sector.

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  • The implementation and effectiveness of mobile health interventions for cardiometabolic disease management in China and Australia - Dr Enying Gong

    Cardiometabolic diseases are the leading causes of deaths globally. Although effective strategies for managing these chronic conditions have been proposed as clinical guidelines and action plans, the translation of evidence into practice is challenging. With the advancement of information and communication technologies (ICTs), digital health and mobile health (mHealth) technologies are increasingly applied to healthcare purposes and hold promise for the promotion of disease management and the strengthening of the healthcare system.

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  • Someday, my child can be proud of me, and I can be proud of my child’: exploring contexts, perceptions, and lived experiences of adolescent pregnancy and parenthood in the Philippines - Dr Marie Habito

    Over the last two decades, adolescent pregnancy in the Philippines has been increasing. From a global health standpoint, there is considerable agreement that adolescent pregnancy poses risks to the health and wellbeing of a young mother and her child. Addressing adolescent pregnancy remains a public health priority in the Philippines.

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  • An examination of community health worker roles and program design for urban, low- and middle-income country settings -Dr Teralynn Ludwick

    Urbanization presents new health and development challenges and opportunities for low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Effective strategies for reaching the urban poor and addressing urban determinants of health and inequities are needed. While community health workers (CHWs) are commonly employed in rural LMIC settings to reach the underserved, there has been little examination of the role of CHWs in urban settings.

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  • Understanding factors influencing health outcomes of drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) patients attending the Programmatic Management of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (PMDT) model of care in Pakistan - Dr Shazra Abbas

    Drug-Resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) is a complex form of TB that develops when the causative bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) become resistant to anti-TB drugs used for the treatment of primary TB. A rise in DR-TB reflects a weak health system's response to primary TB. Pakistan is ranked fifth for primary TB and fourth for DR-TB incidence in the world.

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  • Cultural adaptation of Mental Health First Aid Training for China - Dr Shurong Lu

    The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training program is an evidence-based health intervention, which focuses on teaching members of the public how to provide mental health first aid, i.e., the help offered to a person developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis, until appropriate professional help is received or until the crisis resolves.

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2020 Completions

  • A survey of non-communicable disease and their associated risk factors in three different sites in Papua New Guinea - Dr Patricia Rarau

    Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death and morbidity throughout the world, with the greatest burden in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).  Of the estimated 17.9 million CVD deaths in 2016, more than 10 million occurred in LMIC countries. Coronary heart disease and stroke were the two major causes contributing to these deaths.

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  • Assessing the magnitude and factors contributing to socioeconomic and geographical inequalities in maternal and child health care utilisation in Indonesia - DrTiara Marthias

    Obesity has attained pandemic proportions globally, including in many South Asian countries. The spectrum of obesity in the Indian setting may vary from apparently thin looking individuals with normal weight obesity (NWO) to those at the far end of the spectrum with morbid obesity. However, several knowledge gaps have been identified regarding the utility of clinical and genetic indicators of obesity, across this spectrum, in this unique population.

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  • Investigating people-centred mental health care in Timor-Leste - Dr Tess Hall

    Despite the increased emphasis placed on people-centred mental health care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), until this study, there has been no systematic investigation of the paradigm outside Western high-income country settings. Timor-Leste, a lower middle-income country in South-East Asia, is in the process of strengthening its national mental health system to align with people-centred approaches to mental health care.

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  • Obesity indicators and their impact on the cardio-metabolic disease in an Asian-Indian ethnic population - Dr Nitin Kapoor

    Obesity has attained pandemic proportions globally, including in many South Asian countries. The spectrum of obesity in the Indian setting may vary from apparently thin looking individuals with normal weight obesity (NWO) to those at the far end of the spectrum with morbid obesity. However, several knowledge gaps have been identified regarding the utility of clinical and genetic indicators of obesity, across this spectrum, in this unique population.

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  • Improving respectful maternity care in Ethiopia: Health System constraints and mitigation approaches. - DrAnteneh Asefa

    The mistreatment of women during facility-based childbirth is a violation of women’s human rights that jeopardises their right to a safe, satisfying, and positive childbirth experience. In addition, such mistreatment is a significant deterrent to the utilisation of skilled birth services. In Ethiopia in 2019, 52.5% of women gave birth outside a health institution. There is compelling evidence that the level of mistreatment of women in the country is very high and women prefer home birth in part due to experienced or perceived mistreatment.

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2019 Completions

  • The Economic Impact of Non-communicable Diseases on Household Welfare in China - Dr Tianxin Pan

    The rapidly rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in China affects the demand for healthcare services among households and threatens to create an increased financial burden on households, at a time when economic growth has been slowing down and traditional forms of inter-generational support are in decline. However, the design of effective policies to address household impacts of NCDs in China is hindered by a lack of high-quality work on the economic roots of NCDs, the impact of NCDs on households and economic gains that might result from policy action to address NCDs.

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  • Community-led Total Sanitation in Manufahi, Timor-Leste - Dr Naomi Francis

    Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are important for health and wellbeing. In Timor-Leste, the rates of access to WASH are some of the lowest in the world, particularly in remote areas. The national government’s response to improving sanitation in remote areas is a community-based approach called ‘PAKSI’ (Planu Aksaun Komunidade, Saneamentu no Ijiene) which is also implemented by non-governmental organisations.

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  • Socioeconomic inequalities in health care and financial protection among people with non-communicable diseases in China - Dr Zhao Yang

    In address the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and achieve the universal health coverage, China officially launched the New Health System Reform in 2009. This thesis investigated trends and socioeconomic inequalities in the healthcare utilisation and financial protection among patients with NCDs in China, using two nationally representative datasets

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  • Investigating the role of innate immunity in mediating the non-specific effects of Bacille Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccine -Dr Bridget Freyne

    Epidemiological evidence suggests that Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine exerts non-specific (heterologous) effects in infants; decreasing neonatal mortality in high-mortality settings and preventing allergy and morbidity from infection in developed countries. New tuberculosis (TB) vaccines could potentially lack these beneficial effects. Immune mechanisms underlying the non-specific effects of BCG vaccine have been linked to ‘trained immunity’ or innate immune memory.

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  • Effectiveness of lifestyle intervention programs in the prevention of type 2 diabetes and reduction of cardiovascular diseases risk in resource-constrained settings - Dr Mojtaba Lotfaliany Abrand Abadi

    The number of people with type 2 diabetes is increasing rapidly, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). High and increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes contributes to increased morbidity and mortality due to its complications, most importantly, cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Therefore, preventing type 2 diabetes is a high priority.

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  • Validating the UNICEF/Washington Group Child Functioning Module as a method for disaggregating Fiji’s Education Management Information System - Dr Beth Spunt

    Disability disaggregation of education management information systems (EMIS) is vital to inform policies and resourcing for disability-inclusive education and evaluate progress towards targets. The approach to disaggregation must use a valid and reliable method for identifying children with disabilities.ovascular diseases (CVD). Therefore, preventing type 2 diabetes is a high priority.

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  • The epidemiology of dyslipidaemia in the cardiovascular epidemic in China - Dr Zongmuyu Zhang

    In recent decades, the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) around the world has been increasing, and researchers have paid more attention to understand the epidemiology of CVDs to provide reference for healthcare professionals and policy makers. China is one of the countries where rapid development of economy occurs accompanied by changes in people’s socioeconomic status and lifestyle, and is also facing the challenge of increasing burden of CVDs.

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2015 - 2018 Completions

  • Risk, resilience and youth sexuality: negotiations of sexual risk among iTaukei women university students in Suva, Fiji - Dr Elke Celeste Mitchell

    This thesis explores youth sexuality, sexual risk and sexual resilience among young iTaukei women attending university in Fiji. An adapted ecological model is developed to enable the theorisation of sexual risk and sexual resilience in these women’s lives.

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  • Modelling residential aged care in Australia: entry and exit - Dr Marijan Jukic

    Ageing of the Australian population affects the residential aged care system, yet the structure and dynamics of the system remain uncertain. A comprehensive model of residential care based on the individual perspective of residential aged care events is missing. Thus, older Australians, government and care providers have only a limited model of aged care actions

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  • Population based screening for the prevention of rheumatic heart disease - Dr Daniel Engelman

    Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is a major cause of global morbidity and mortality, particularly affecting children and young adults in resource-limited settings. Most individuals are diagnosed at an advanced stage of disease, limiting opportunities for prevention. Population-based screening has the potential to detect individuals in an earlier, latent stage of disease, where secondary prevention may be most effective.

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  • The role of microfinance-based self-help groups in improving health behaviours and outcomes of the poor in India - Dr Somen Saha

    Despite an intense national discussion in India during 2010 – 2012, progress towards universal health coverage (UHC) has stalled. Coverage of the entire population is still a challenge, especially effective coverage of the poor. Through the mechanism of microfinance-based self-help groups (SHGs), poor women and their families are provided not only with access to finance in a way that is understood to improve livelihoods, but also in many cases with a range of basic health services.

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  • Towards timely quality delivery care: a case study of Palpa District, Western Nepal - Dr Alison Morgan

    Since 1997 the United Nations process indicators for the provision of essential obstetric care (EOC) have guided health planners aiming to ensure women receive timely quality delivery care from skilled birth attendants (SBAs). In Nepal, where difficult geography and an under-resourced health system contribute to poor health care access, the Government has scaled up the number of trained SBAs, posting them in newly constructed birthing centres attached to peripheral health facilities, made available to women 24 hours a day.

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  • Environmental sustainability in hospitals: an exploration within anaesthetic and intensive care settings - Dr Forbes McGain

    Hospitals are resource intensive with detrimental environmental effects. This thesis explored hospital environmental resource use and resultant waste production in the operating room and intensive care unit. It examined safely reducing the use of equipment; compared reusable versus single use items and their resultant life cycles of carbon, water etc; and explored the effects of recycling.

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  • And they lived happily ever after: middle class women’s reproductive experiences and decisions in Yogyakarta, Indonesia - Dr Belinda Spagnoletti

    For Indonesian women and men from all social strata, the milestones of heterosexual marriage and parenthood are not only symbolic of the transition to adulthood, but also represent the path to an idealised, normative future, otherwise known as the ‘happily ever after’.

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  • HIV care decentralization in lower- and middle-income countries: outcomes, costs, and cost effectiveness - Dr Arie Rahadi

    Decentralized provision of HIV care continuum – from diagnosis to chronic antiretroviral treatment (ART) – at primary health care facilities (PHCFs) is a critical step towards realizing optimal care coverage in national programs of lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Whether such a model of provision is justified depends on considerations of  effectiveness, program costs, and cost-effectiveness.

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  • How to improve the prevention and self-management of type 2 diabetes in real-world settings - Dr Zahra Aziz

    Decentralized provision of HIV care continuum – from diagnosis to chronic antiretroviral treatment (ART) – at primary health care facilities (PHCFs) is a critical step towards realizing optimal care coverage in national programs of lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Whether such a model of provision is justified depends on considerations of  effectiveness, program costs, and cost-effectiveness.

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