UCA Appoints Health Economist to Address Health Policy Issues
The University of Central Asia’s Institute of Public Policy and Administration (IPPA) has appointed Michael Onah, a health economist, as Senior Research Fellow. Health policy is one of the most critical issues facing governments in Central Asia. They inherited from the Soviet era rather developed health care systems and it is a challenge for them to maintain essential health care functions given available resources, and adjust to technological and socio-economic changes. While health care reform has been on the agenda for many years, its progress has been stymied by the absence of endogenous evidence-based analysis that could inform decision-makers. Many issues confronting Central Asia are common to a large number of low- and middle-income countries, and knowledge generated by IPPA on health policy questions can also be relevant to other countries.
Michael Onah has over a decade of experience in developing countries. He has worked at the Universities of Witwatersrand and Cape Town in South Africa, where his scope of work covered topics including conditional cash transfers for adolescent school-going boys and girls, economics of cervical cancer screening and diagnosis, economics of HIV and AIDS prevention, and maternal mental health in adversity among others. His primary areas of interest include health financing, private sector roles in the provision of healthcare services, women’s and children’s dietary diversity and nutrition outcomes, rural economic livelihoods, and women’s empowerment.
More recently, he has worked with the Global Financing Facility of the World Bank, UNICEF, UN’s World Food Programme, PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health), and the University of Ottawa on a range of important topics that are relevant to minority communities and developing nations. At the World Bank, he worked on estimating catastrophic and impoverishing healthcare expenditures and on estimating the role of the private sector in the provision of key maternal and child health services for 36 developing countries. At UNICEF, he was part of a team that conducted a scoping review of the global economic burden of childhood malnutrition (under-and-over nutrition) and at the UN’s World Food Programme, he led a cost and cost-effectiveness analyses of a childhood nutritional intervention in the Punjab province of Pakistan. He also provided technical advice to PATH on a medical device trial that target fever measurement and management for under-5 children in five developing countries. He has worked on women’s empowerment combining quantitative and qualitative methodologies in seeking to answer questions such as “what domains of women’s empowerment confer positive benefits to different health and development outcomes?”, and “What is the role of women’s empowerment in women’s and children’s dietary intake?”
Michael holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Nigeria, a Master in Public Health specializing in Health Economics, University of Cape Town, and is completing a Ph.D in Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Canada. He has published numerous articles and reports.
His current topic of research at IPPA is on gathering evidence on the role of diets and food systems in the prevention of obesity and non-communicable diseases in Kyrgyzstan; a project funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.