The University of Southampton
MedicinePostgraduate study

Miss Sara Afshar BSc(Hons) Biomedical Sciences, MSc Global Health & Development

Postgraduate research student

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Miss Sara Afshar is Postgraduate research student within Medicine at the University of Southampton.

Sara gained her Undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science, and later a Masters in Global Health & Development at UCL. During this time she developed an interest in health equity. She took an internship at Medecins du Monde, where she advocated for healthcare rights amongst migrants in London. Her Masters thesis also examined the effectiveness of North-South partnerships in addressing the burden of non-communicable disease.

After qualifying, Sara spent the next few years working as a Program Manager for a donor-funded project at the National Cancer Institute in Sri Lanka. This proved to be an invaluable experience and the inspiration for further work in global health. She is currently doing a PhD in Epidemiology and International Public Health under the USRG Population Health at the University of Southampton. Her main research interests lie in understanding the prevalence and impact of multimorbidity in middle-income countries.

She continues to work as a Health Advisor and coordinator for a UN-consultative NGO based in Geneva and is a Trustee to the local charity, One Community. With the new developments of the Global Health Research Institute, she believes it in an exciting time to be at the University of Southampton, and looks forward to collaborations across various disciplines.

BSc(Hons) Biomedical Sciences, University of Southampton (2009)

MSc Global Health & Development, University College London (2010)

PhD Epidemiology and International Public Health, University of Southampton (2016 expected)





Research interests

Sara’s current interests lie in global health research: including epidemiological methods for public health, and addressing the global burden of non-communicable disease through evidence based policy. She is currently doing a joint PhD program between the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences, and in collaboration with the World Health Organisation's Study on Global Ageing (SAGE) group.

Research interests

Her specific interests are in understanding the:

  • prevalence of multimorbidity in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs) ;
  • impact of multimorbidity on individuals, communities and health systems ;
  • effect of urbanization on ill health, particularly risk factors leading to chronic disease and multimorbidity ;
  • patterns of chronic disease within populations.

PhD Research

Multimorbidity has been described as a ‘significant health-care problem’ for high-income countries: a trend linked to a rise in both an ageing population and burden of non-communicable disease. Evidence on multimorbidity prevalence in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) remains sparse, however. Defined as the co-occurrence of more than two chronic conditions, multimorbidity has a complex impact on health outcomes: including functional status, disability and quality of life. Despite its increasing prevalence, the contextual factors that give rise to multimorbidity, including the biological and social determinants, are relatively understudied globally.

Sara’s PhD uses quantitative methods to examine evidence from the World Health Survey, the Study of Global AGEing and Adult Health (SAGE) and the Women’s Health Survey Accra, Ghana (WHSA). Her aims are to measure the global prevalence and impact of multimorbidity across LMICs, and compare this to HICs. As part of her research, she will undertake qualitative field work in Accra (Ghana) to develop an in-depth understanding of the impact of multimorbidity within a LMIC.

The implications of the study are wide-reaching and consider evidence for better health planning, policy, and community interventions; particularly for LMICs facing a rising multimorbidity burden. As countries develop and rapidly urbanise, their health systems need to support the complexities of chronic disease. Health services, even in the UK, are still not optimally orientated to support the complexities of a multimorbid population. For LMICs, informed policy and planning are therefore needed to support this transition, and promote appropriate health care service delivery.

Supervisors: Professor Paul J Roderick (Medicine), Professor Allan Hill (Social Sciences), Associate Professor Borislav Dimitrov (Medicine)

Research group

Primary Care & Population Sciences Academic Units

Affiliate research groups

Primary care Research group, Population Health Sciences Research group

Teaching Assistant/Lecturer on ‘Designing health programmes in a global context’ (Global Health Module UOSM2004)

Mentor for Global Health Summer Internship – available to selected students from Global Health Module

  • Global Health & Development
  • Public Health
Miss Sara Afshar
Faculty of Medicine, Primary Care and Population Sciences Room AC22, Level C, South Academic Block, Southampton General Hospital, Tremona Road, Southampton. SO16 6YD

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