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Prof Therese Hesketh
30 Guiford St
Tel: 0207 905 2253
  • Professor
  • Institute for Global Health
  • Faculty of Pop Health Sciences

I  graduated in medicine in 1982 and trained in the UK in paediatrics. I then spent the next eight years working in Asia as a paediatrician and manager for the NGOs, Project Hope, Health Unlimited and for WHO and UNICEF.  While based mainly in China, I also  worked in Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and  Myanmar. In China with American colleagues I was involved in the establishment of Peadiatric and Neonatal Intensive Care in Shanghai and Hangzhou cities, the first in China, and in the development of an 11-province basic neonatal programme. Programmes elsewhere covered immunisation, malaria control, safe motherhood and systems for cost recovery.  I returned to the UK in 1993 and trained in public health at St Thomas’s and Lambeth, Southwark and  Lewisham Health Authorities. I came to the Institute of Child Health as a research fellow for the DfID-funded work programme on diseases in childhood. I was awarded a Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellowship in 2000 to explore the epidemiology of HIV, HBV and HCV in China using blood spots. I returned  to China for four years to complete this work. I was awarded my PhD in 2001. In 2004 I became a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for International Health and Development at the Institute of Child Health and became Professor of Global Health in 2010.  I am honorary consultant at North Central London PCT and Visiting Professor at Zhejiang University in China. 

Research Themes
Research Summary

The focus of my research has been on population health in China. This has included:

- adolescent health

- epidemiology of HIV, HBV, HCV and syphilis

- the impact of the One Child Policy  

- the health effects of rural-urban migration and interventions to improve health and well-being of migrants

- impacts and lessons of the ongoing health system reforms on the health of the population in China.

- interventions to improve quality of health care 

My Chinese base is at Zhejiang University, where I have my own research team, and I work in collaboration with Chinese health authorities, the Medical Association, the All-China Women’s Federation, the  Population and Family Planning Bureau and Zhejiang Normal University.  Key findings from our research are shown below.

Our Wellcome Trust funded research into reproductive health epidemiology in China consisted of a cross-sectional study of reproductive health in 12,000 men and women.  Dried blood spot serodiagnostic technology was introduced for screening of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.  The very low prevalence of HIV we detected contributed to the dramatic downscaling of estimates and predictions. 

Our study of the health effects of rural-urban migration in China, again funded by the Wellcome Trust,  was the first  to systematically compare  urban, rural and migrant populations and the first to involve the health and well-being of the children of migrant workers. The cross-sectional study included 12,000 participants. We found a zero prevalence of HIV in all three groups,  but a prevalence of syphilis among migrants lower than the urban population, a lower level of risk behaviours among migrants, and poor access to urban healthcare for migrants because of limited health or non-existent health insurance coverage. 

An ESRC-funded study explore the  sex ratio in different areas of China, and  the impact  of the sex ratio on young adults and society in general. We found that the adult sex ratio was extremely high in parts of rural China, partly because of the high sex ratio at birth and partly because of the preferential out-migration of women from rural areas.  The unmarriageable men are highly vulnerable to depression and aggression.

A grant from DfID  has allowed us to develop evidence-based medicine for common conditions, community health councils and specific measures to tackle corruption in Zhejiang Province. This programme is ongoing with local funding. We are currently developing an intervention  to reduce overuse of antibiotics and infusions in township hospitals.

We are also working with the All-China Women’s Federation to develop and evaluate an intervention to support children left behind by their migrant parents. The intervention consists of clubs run by volunteers and they are the first of their kind in China.  



Teaching Summary

I am Director of Teaching and Learning for the Institute of Global Health and oversee:

Ø  Two Masters programmes in Global Health and Development and International Child Health in addition to corresponding Diploma and Certificate programmes and a European Masters in International Health  

Ø  The  intercalated BSc in international health for UCL  medical students

Ø  Special study components for Fifth Year and Second Year Medical students.  

Ø  Academic Clinical Fellowships in International Health 

I am Chair of the exam board for the Masters in Global Health and Development, International Child Health, and the new MA in Chinese Health and Humanity (UCL History).  

I  personally teach two modules: Concepts and Controversies in Global Health and Children in Difficult Circumstances. I also contribute to a number of modules across UCL and other universities n the UK and overseas.  In particular I have just started to teach a module on Global Health at Zhejiang University, as part of the medical curriculum. This is the first time that global health this has been included in the medical curriculum in China.

I am external examiner for the intercalated BSc in International Health at Bristol University.



Academic Background
2001 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Child Health University College London
2000 MFPH Member of Faculty of Public Health – Public Health Royal College of Physicians
1995 MPH Master of Public Health – Public Health University of London
1995 MRCPCH Member of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health – Paediatrics and Child Health Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
1985 DCH Diploma of Child Health – Paediatrics and Child Health Royal College of Physicians
1982 MB.ChB Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery – Medicine/Surgery University of Bristol
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