Rifat Atun

Rifat Atun

Professor of Global Health Systems

Global Health and Population


Other Positions

Faculty Affiliate in the Department of Health Policy and Management

Health Policy and Management

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


Dr Rifat Atun is Professor of Global Health Systems at Harvard University and the Faculty Chair for the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program.

In 2006-13, Dr Atun was Professor of International Health Management and Head of the Health Management Group at Imperial College London. In 2008-12 he served as a member of the Executive Management Team of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as the Director of Strategy, Performance and Evaluation Cluster, where he chaired the panel that oversaw investments of around $4billion each year in more than 100 countries.

Professor Atun's research has two major strands. The first research strand examines health systems performance and how design and implementation of health systems reforms impact on outcomes. The second strand of research explores adoption and diffusion of innovations in health systems (e.g. health technologies, disease control programmes, and primary healthcare reforms), and innovative financing in global health. Prof. Atun is a co-Investigator and the joint lead for the innovation work stream at the National Centre for Infection Prevention and Management at Imperial College. He is also a co-Investigator and the Theme Lead for 'Organisational Change, Health Economics and Evaluation' at the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit for Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection. He has published more than 350 papers in leading journals including the Lancet, NEJM, Academy of Management Journal, Lancet Infectious Diseases, Lancet Oncology, Lancet Global Health and Lancet Psychiatry and PLoS Medicine. He has led or has been a commissioner in 10 Lancet Commissions and was a co-author and member of the Advisory Committee for the Editors for Disease Control Priorities (DCP) 3.

Prof. Atun has worked with more than 30 governments globally as well as the World Bank, World Health Organization, and the UK Department for International Development to design, implement and evaluate health system reform initiatives. He has led executive education programs and undertaken assignments for major companies including Novartis, Medtronic, GSK, Pfizer Inc., the Vodafone Group, Hofmann La Roche, and Tata Consulting Services.

Prof. Atun was the Founding Director of the MSc in International Health Management, BSc in Management and Medical Science, and Founding Co-Director of the Masters in Public Health (MPH) Programmes at Imperial College. He has been a founding director and investor in Imperial College spin out companies operating in areas of health information systems and biotechnology.

Prof. Atun has served as a member of the MRC (UK) Global Health Group, the US Institute of Medicine Standing Committee on Strengthening Health Systems. He serves as a member of the Research Advisory Committee for the Public Health Foundation of India. He was a member of the PEPFAR Scientific Advisory Board, the Norwegian Research Council's Global Health and Vaccination Research Board, as well as the Advisory Committee for WHO Research Centre for Health Development in Japan and the Strategic Technical Advisory Group of the WHO for Tuberculosis. He chaired the WHO Task Force on Health Systems and Tuberculosis Control and in 2009-12 he was the Chair of the STOP TB Partnership Coordinating Board.

Prof. Atun studied medicine at University of London as a Commonwealth Scholar. He subsequently completed his postgraduate medical studies and Masters in Business Administration at University of London and Imperial College London. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners (UK), Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health of the Royal College of Physicians (UK), and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (UK).


Association between country preparedness indicators and quality clinical care for cardiovascular disease risk factors in 44 lower- and middle-income countries: A multicountry analysis of survey data.

Davies JI, Reddiar SK, Hirschhorn LR, Ebert C, Marcus ME, Seiglie JA, Zhumadilov Z, Supiyev A, Sturua L, Silver BK, Sibai AM, Quesnel-Crooks S, Norov B, Mwangi JK, Omar OM, Wong-McClure R, Mayige MT, Martins JS, Lunet N, Labadarios D, Karki KB, Kagaruki GB, Jorgensen JMA, Hwalla NC, Houinato D, Houehanou C, Guwatudde D, Gurung MS, Bovet P, Bicaba BW, Aryal KK, Msaidié M, Andall-Brereton G, Brian G, Stokes A, Vollmer S, Bärnighausen T, Atun R, Geldsetzer P, Manne-Goehler J, Jaacks LM.

PLoS Med. 2020 11. 17(11):e1003268. PMID: 33170842

Analysis of Attained Height and Diabetes Among 554,122 Adults Across 25 Low- and Middle-Income Countries.

Teufel F, Geldsetzer P, Manne-Goehler J, Karlsson O, Koncz V, Deckert A, Theilmann M, Marcus ME, Ebert C, Seiglie JA, Agoudavi K, Andall-Brereton G, Gathecha G, Gurung MS, Guwatudde D, Houehanou C, Hwalla N, Kagaruki GB, Karki KB, Labadarios D, Martins JS, Msaidie M, Norov B, Sibai AM, Sturua L, Tsabedze L, Wesseh CS, Davies J, Atun R, Vollmer S, Subramanian SV, Bärnighausen T, Jaacks LM, De Neve JW.

Diabetes Care. 2020 Oct. 43(10):2403-2410. PMID: 32764150


Strong health systems fundamental to health of nations

There is no one-size-fits-all health system that will work for every country, according to Rifat Atun, professor of global health systems at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. What’s most important, he said, is that a system…

Brazil’s ‘fragile’ health care gains threatened

Progress made by Brazil’s unified health system, Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS), over the past three decades is in danger of being reversed because of recent austerity measures and new policies of the Brazilian government, according to a…

Nearly half of childhood cancers worldwide undiagnosed

For immediate release: February 26, 2019 Boston, MA – Nearly half of all childhood cancers are not being diagnosed globally, according to a new modeling study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The study found that,…