Professor of International Health Financing and Health Systems

Division: Institute for Global Health and Development

Tel: 0131 474 0000

Professor Sophie Witter (BA, MA, PhD) is a Professor of International Health Financing and Health Systems in the Institute for Global Health and Development. She is also a member of the Institute for Global Health and Development Research Centre.

  • Overview
  • Research Interests
  • Research Publications
  • Funded Projects
  • Teaching & Learning

Sophie Witter is a health economist specialising in health financing policy and health systems research in low and middle income countries. She has 25 years experience in these areas, working first in development agencies and then in the universities of York, Aberdeen and QMU Edinburgh.

Sophie is currently a Professor at IGHD, leading the health systems cluster and working on a number of programmes focused on health systems in fragile settings. She has extensive experience of health financing and human resources research, using mixed methods and leading complex evaluations, as well as providing technical advisory services for Ministries of Health and development partners, and teaching at post-graduate level.

Research/Knowledge Exchange Centre Membership:

Professional Social Media:

Sophie is leading research into health worker incentives and the evolution of HRH policy post-conflict, within the ReBUILD programme, including a current project examining the interplay of context and performance-based financing programmes.

She is also co-PI on four additional projects:

  1. A project to identify and foster resilience through health systems analysis of UNWRA provision for Palestinian refugees from Syria
  2. Designing and evaluating provider results-based financing for tuberculosis care in Georgia: understanding costs, mechanisms of effect and impact
  3. Verbal Autopsy with Participatory Action Research (VAPAR): expanding the knowledge base through partnerships for action on health equity
  4. Deputy Director, Global Health Research Unit for Health in Fragility, developing understanding and tools to address the health service/community interface, focussing on mental health and non-communicable diseases

Other on-going projects include: 

  1. Contributing to a study on universal health coverage and equity
  2. Providing technical support to the Bihar Technical Support Programme evaluation
  3. Acting as advisory principal researcher on a comparative health systems consultation
  4. Leading a team looking at options for financing health and education from oil and gas in Ghana
  5. Leading a health market analysis in Guinea


Active research interests

Health systems research, health financing, human resources for health, health worker incentives and labour markets, performance-based financing, resilience of health systems, financial barriers, health systems in fragile and conflict-affected settings, gender equitable health systems


Research Methods

Theory-based evaluation; participatory action research; life histories; mixed methods; realist evaluation; dynamic systems modeling


Please see my research publications in eResearch – Queen Margaret University’s repository

Research Grants & Contracts Funding:

ReBUILD – Research for building pro-poor health systems during the recovery from conflict

The ReBUILD Consortium is an international research partnership working for improved access of the poor to effective health care and reduced health costs burdens, through the production and uptake of a coherent body of high quality, policy-relevant new research on health systems financing and human resources for health in post-conflict countries. ReBUILD is led in the UK by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, working with partner research organisations in Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zimbabwe. ReBUILD is funded by the UK Department for International Development.

Find out more about ReBUILD

System resilience in UNRWA health provision to Palestine refugees displaced by the Syria crisis (Health Systems Resilience)

This research will focus on the key vulnerabilities of UNRWA health systems in the face of disruptions associated with the displacement of Palestine refugees registered in Syria (PRS).

This research project is funded by Elrha’s Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) Programme which aims to improve health outcomes by strengthening the evidence base for public health interventions in humanitarian crises. Visit  for more information.

The R2HC programme is funded equally by the Wellcome Trust and DFID, with Elrha overseeing the programme’s execution and management.

Find out more about Health Systems Resilience

Results4TB: Designing and evaluating provider results-based financing for tuberculosis care in Georgia: understanding costs, mechanisms of effect and impact

This 4-year project will help design a pilot results-based financing (RBF) scheme with Georgian policy-makers and programme managers, examine its impact and cost effectiveness and give further evidence to RBF and TB programming around the globe.

Find out more about Results4TB


Sophie teaches on health financing, human resources for health, performance-based financing, and complex evaluation approaches.


Sophie welcomes applications from those interested in pursuing a PhD in health systems research, especially in: health system reforms, health financing, and human resources for health.