Institution Registered at: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM

PhD Title: Assessment of the health financing functions of State Health Insurance Schemes in responding to emerging and re-emerging infections in Abia and Ebonyi States, Nigeria

Study Description: Nigeria is currently implementing important health financing reforms as the country undertakes the journey to universal health coverage. Such reforms include the establishment of sub-national level social health insurance schemes to increase access to affordable and basic health services among the poor and vulnerable. Amidst this journey, is the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and other emerging and re-emerging infections such as Lassa Fever. This has prompted actions within the health system to ramp up pandemic preparedness and response interventions. Therefore, my research will investigate how these schemes have been able to undertake their statutory health financing functions amidst the outbreak of these emerging and re-emerging infections. The aim is to assess the health financing functions of state social health insurance schemes in responding to emerging and re-emerging infections in Abia and Ebonyi States, Nigeria. It is a qualitative study that will deploy the use of desk reviews, key informant interviews and focus group discussions to answer key research questions. Findings and recommendations from my research will inform sub-national, national and global policies and best practices on how social health insurance schemes can effectively and efficiently protect the populace particularly the poor and the vulnerable in resource-constrained settings such as Africa from catastrophic expenditures while seeking COVID-19 services.


  • Melisa Martinez-Alvarez – Assistant Professor, Global Health Department, LSHTM
  • Josephine Borghi – Professor, Global Health Department, LSHTM

Profile: I have extensive experience in the health development sector in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa. As a health systems strengthening/health financing expert, I have been involved in projects funded by UNAIDS, USAID, BMGF, The World Bank and The Global Fund related to performance-based financing for improving maternal and child health services; market shaping/commodity financing and institutional strengthening of social health insurance agencies. Therefore, my special interest lies in the financing of primary health care (PHC) in sub-Saharan Africa while my PhD work specifically focuses on the response to emerging and re-emerging infections through social health insurance schemes in low and middle-income settings.

I have an MSc in Health Economics, Management and Policy; a Master of Public Health (MPH) Degree and a Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmacy from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I am a grantee of the 2004 John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Nigeria – Fund for Leadership Development (FLD) Programme.

Publications: How COVID affected financing for essential health services in Kaduna state | Results for Development (r4d.org)

LinkedIn: UCHE EBENEZER | LinkedIn

Twitter:  @pharm_uche