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Kristen started working at King’s College London in 2018. She works in a hybrid role as a Programme Manager and Research Associate within the Conflict and Health Research Group (CHRG) across two global research partnerships: Research for Health in Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa (R4HC-MENA), and Research for Health Systems Strengthening in northern Syria (R4HSSS). Kristen also leads the Women Leaders in Health and Conflict initiative. My research interests currently focus on gender and health systems in conflict and forced displacement.

Prior to working at King’s, Kristen has worked with the New Zealand government, the International Organisation for Migration, and NGOs in Australia managing projects and undertaking research primarily focusing on refugee resettlement. Kristen obtained a Masters degree in International Law and Politics from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand.  Kristen also undertakes country of origin information research for global organisations supporting asylum seekers.


Research Interests

  • Conflict settings
  • Syria
  • Gender
  • Health systems
  • Forced migration



  • Ozvaris, S., Kayi, I., Mardin, D., Sakarya, S., Ekzayez, A., Meagher, K., Patel, P. COVID-19 barriers and response strategies for refugees and undocumented migrants in Turkey. Journal of Migration and Health. In press.
  • Patel, P, Meagher, K., El Achi, N., Ekzayez, A., Sullivan, R., Bowsher, G. “Having more women Humanitarian Leaders Will Help Transform the Humanitarian System”: Challenges and Opportunities for Women Leaders in Conflict and Humanitarian Health. 2020. Conflict and Health. DOI: 21203/
  • Hammoudeh, W., Kienzler, H., Meagher, K.and Giacaman, R. Social and political determinants of health in the occupied Palestine territory (oPt) during the COVID-19 pandemic: who is responsible? BMJ Global Health. 2020. 5;e003683.
  • Meagher, K., Singh, N. S. & Patel, P. The role of gender inclusive leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic to support vulnerable populations in conflict settings. BMJ Global Health. 5;e003683.
  • El Achi, N., Honein-Abouhaidar, G., Rizk, A., Kobeissi, E., Papamichail, A., Meagher, K.,Ekzayez, A., Abu-Sittah, G. S. & Patel, P. Assessing the capacity for conflict and health research in Lebanon: A qualitative study. 2020. Conflict and Health. 14, 59 (2020). DOI: 1186/s13031-020-00304-x
  • Ekzayez, A., al-Khalil, M., Jasiem, M., Al Saleh, R., Alzoubi, Z., Meagher, K., Patel, P. 2020. COVID-19 response in northwest Syria: innovation and community engagement in a complex conflict, Journal of Public Health. DOI: 10.1093/pubmed/fdaa068



Investigating the role of women’s leadership and participation in health systems strengthening in northern Syria

This research is based on the hypothesis that women are underrepresented in their contribution, leadership and participation in health systems strengthening in northern Syria, and that their active inclusion would strengthen health systems and the subsequent health outcomes for all individuals. The Syrian armed conflict began in 2011 and is the deadliest of recent wars and the worst humanitarian catastrophe this century. The conflict has had a devastating impact on the health system and health outcomes within Syria. There is substantive evidence that the lack of women in leadership has detrimental impacts across sectors, including global health. There has, however, been very little research on health issues inside the country or on gendered health systems in conflict more broadly. This research intersects three interrelated global imperatives: strengthening health systems, gender equality and intervening in armed conflict. This research is underpinned by a vision for greater roles and responsibilities of women in strengthening health systems in conflict settings. By addressing gender imbalances in health systems, the research aims to influence a cultural shift in the role of women as decision makers. The objectives include: identifying and analysing the challenges and opportunities for women undertaking leadership roles in health systems in northern Syria; exploring how gender norms influence health systems in northern Syria; developing a framework for health system strengthening in active conflict incorporating gender analysis; providing lessons learned for comparable conflict-affected settings; influencing the policies and practices of organisations, national and international donors, governments, and policy makers to create enabling environments for women to contribute to health systems strengthening. The research will further enhance understanding of the gendered dimension of the Syrian crisis and the impacts of health outcomes in conflict settings. This project will take a mixed methods approach, utilising both quantitative and qualitative research methods and combining relevant theory.


Professor Preeti Patel (Primary)

Professor Cathy McIlwaine (Secondary)