Rifat Atun
Primary Faculty

Rifat Atun

Professor of Global Health Systems

Health Systems Group


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 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 Infections.

Professor Atun has published more than 400 papers in leading journals including the Lancet, NEJM, Academy of Management Journal, Lancet Global Health, Lancet Infectious Diseases, Lancet Oncology, and Lancet Psychiatry and PLoS Medicine. He has led or has been a commissioner in 12 Lancet Commissions and was a co-author and member of the Advisory Committee for the Editors for Disease Control Priorities (DCP) 3. In 2020, he was recognized by the Web of Science as one of the World's Highly Cited Researchers.

Prof. Atun has worked with more than 30 governments globally and with the World Bank, World Health Organization, and the UK Department for International Development (DfID) to design, implement and evaluate health system reform initiatives. In 1999-2006 he was a member of the UK DfID Resource Centre for Health Systems.

Dr. Atun has led executive education programs and undertaken assignments for major organizations including Novartis, Medtronic, GSK, Pfizer Inc., the Vodafone Group, and Hofmann-La Roche.

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 is an active investor in health technology companies operating in areas of digital health, health service delivery, medical diagnostics and biotechnology. He also advises new ventures operating in these areas.

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. He is a member of The Longitude Prize Committee, the largest science prize in the world. He is currently serving as a Member of the WHO Regional Director’s Advisory Council on Innovation for Noncommunicable Diseases (the NCD Advisory Council).

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).


Diabetes risk and provision of diabetes prevention activities in 44 low-income and middle-income countries: a cross-sectional analysis of nationally representative, individual-level survey data.

Rahim NE, Flood D, Marcus ME, Theilmann M, Aung TN, Agoudavi K, Aryal KK, Bahendeka S, Bicaba B, Bovet P, Diallo AO, Farzadfar F, Guwatudde D, Houehanou C, Houinato D, Hwalla N, Jorgensen J, Kagaruki GB, Mayige M, Wong-McClure R, Larijani B, Saeedi Moghaddam S, Mwalim O, Mwangi KJ, Sarkar S, Sibai AM, Sturua L, Wesseh C, Geldsetzer P, Atun R, Vollmer S, Bärnighausen T, Davies J, Ali MK, Seiglie JA, Manne-Goehler J.

Lancet Glob Health. 2023 10. 11(10):e1576-e1586. PMID: 37734801

Diagnostic testing for hypertension, diabetes, and hypercholesterolaemia in low-income and middle-income countries: a cross-sectional study of data for 994?185 individuals from 57 nationally representative surveys.

Ochmann S, von Polenz I, Marcus ME, Theilmann M, Flood D, Agoudavi K, Aryal KK, Bahendeka S, Bicaba B, Bovet P, Campos Caldeira Brant L, Carvalho Malta D, Damasceno A, Farzadfar F, Gathecha G, Ghanbari A, Gurung M, Guwatudde D, Houehanou C, Houinato D, Hwalla N, Jorgensen JA, Karki KB, Lunet N, Martins J, Mayige M, Moghaddam SS, Mwalim O, Mwangi KJ, Norov B, Quesnel-Crooks S, Rezaei N, Sibai AM, Sturua L, Tsabedze L, Wong-McClure R, Davies J, Geldsetzer P, Bärnighausen T, Atun R, Manne-Goehler J, Vollmer S.

Lancet Glob Health. 2023 09. 11(9):e1363-e1371. PMID: 37591584

Aspirin for Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in 51 Low-, Middle-, and High-Income Countries.

Yoo SGK, Chung GS, Bahendeka SK, Sibai AM, Damasceno A, Farzadfar F, Rohloff P, Houehanou C, Norov B, Karki KB, Azangou-Khyavy M, Marcus ME, Aryal KK, Brant LCC, Theilmann M, Cífková R, Lunet N, Gurung MS, Mwangi JK, Martins J, Haghshenas R, Sturua L, Vollmer S, Bärnighausen T, Atun R, Sussman JB, Singh K, Saeedi Moghaddam S, Guwatudde D, Geldsetzer P, Manne-Goehler J, Huffman MD, Davies JI, Flood D.

JAMA. 2023 08 22. 330(8):715-724. PMID: 37606674


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…