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Kristen works in a hybrid role as a Programme Manager and Research Associate while undertaking her PhD. She manages the Research for Health Systems Strengthening in northern Syria (R4HSSS) project, funded by NIHR and previously coordinated the Research for Health in Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa (R4HC-MENA) project. Kristen also co-leads the Women Leaders in Health and Conflict initiative. Her 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 and health
  • Gender
  • Health systems
  • Forced migration



  • Meagher, K., Abbara, A., Fahham, O., Patel, P., Women leaders in Syria in the COVID-19 response and beyond. International Perspectives in Psychology. 2021.
  • Meagher, K., El Achi, N., Bowsher, G., Ekzayez, A. and Patel, P.
    Exploring the role of City Networks in supporting urban resilience to COVID-19 in conflict-affected settings. 2021. Open Health. 2, 1, p. 1-20. DOI: 10.1515/openhe-2021-0001
  • Meagher, K., Attal, B. & Patel, P. Exploring the role of gender and women in the political economy of health in armed conflict: a narrative review. Global Health17, 88 (2021).
  • Michelle Lokot, M, Bou-Orm, I., Thurayya, Z., Kik, N., Fuhr, DC., El Masri, R., Meagher, K., Smith, J., Asmar, MK., McKee, M., Roberts, B. Health System Governance in Settings with Conflict-Affected Populations: A Systematic Review, Health Policy and Planning, 2022
  • Baatz, RK., Ekzayez, A., Meagher, K., Bowsher, G., Patel, P. Cross-border strategies for access to healthcare in violent conflict – a scoping review, Journal of Migration and Health (2022), doi:
  • Meagher, K., Ogbe, E., Parray, A., Sharma, V., Standley, C. Assessing gender responsiveness of COVID-19 response plans for populations in conflict-affected humanitarian emergencies. Confl Health16, 4 (2022).
  • Meagher, K., Al Echi, N., Mkhallalati, M., and Patel, P. A missing piece in the Health for Peace Agenda: Gender diverse leadership and governance. BMJ Global Health. 2020. DOI: 10.1136/bmjgh-2021-007742 (In press)
  • Meagher, K., Elliott, I., & Patel, P. (2022). Gender and leadership in conflict settings. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 100(1), 3–3A.
  • Meagher, K., Attal, B. & Patel, P. Exploring the role of gender and women in the political economy of health in armed conflict: a narrative review. Global Health17, 88 (2021).
  • 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. 2020. 5;e003683. DOI: 10.1136/bmjgh-2020-003760



Examining the role of women’s leadership in health systems strengthening in northwest Syria. 

This research is based on the hypothesis that women are underrepresented in leadership in health systems in northwest Syria and that their active inclusion in leadership roles would strengthen health systems in northwest Syria and support sustainable development of health systems impacted by protracted armed conflict. 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 Syrian health system leading to its fragmentation across areas controlled by different political factions. There is substantive evidence that the lack of women in leadership has detrimental impacts across systems and sectors, including health. There has, however, been very little research conducted on health issues inside Syria or gendered health systems in active conflict more broadly. This research intersects three interrelated global imperatives: strengthening health systems, gender equity and equality, and peacebuilding. By addressing gender imbalances in health systems, this research is underpinned by a vision for acknowledging and increasing the roles of women in strengthening health systems in conflict settings. This research will take a mixed methods approach. The objectives include identifying and analysing the challenges and opportunities for women undertaking leadership roles in health systems in northwest Syria; exploring the influence of gender norms and culture; developing a framework for health system strengthening in active conflict incorporating gender; providing lessons learned for comparable conflict-affected settings; influencing the policies and practices of international organisations, donors, and policy makers.  


Professor Preeti Patel (Primary)

Professor Cathy McIlwaine (Secondary)