Alastair Ager

Alastair Ager

Alastair Ager

Adjunct Professor
Population and Family Health at the Columbia University Medical Center
Director, Doctorate of Public Health (DrPH) in Leadership in Global Health and Humanitarian Systems


Program on Forced Migration & Health
New York NY 10032
Website address: Email:


Alastair Ager, PhD, has worked in the field of international health and development for nearly 25 years, after originally training in psychology at the Universities of Keele, Wales and Birmingham in the UK. He was head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Malawi from 1989 until 1992 and Foundation Director of the Institute of International Health and Development at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh until 2004. Before joining Columbia, Dr. Ager worked as Senior Research Manager for the UK Department for International Development, with responsibility for the agency's global portfolio of health and education research. Since joining Columbia, he has served as Research Director of the Care and Protection of Children in Crisis program (2005-2008) and, from 2009 to 2012, as the Executive Director of the Global Health Initiative at the Mailman School. In 2012 he was appointed Director of Academic Programs in the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, and Director of the new DrPH program in Leadership in Global Health and Humanitarian Systems. Dr. Ager is author of over one hundred scholarly publications, and has wide international experience as a lecturer, researcher and consultant across sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Europe and North America, working with a range of intergovernmental, non-governmental and governmental agencies. His current research and writing is focused in the areas of refugee mental health, psychosocial well-being and child protection; the planning and evaluation of health and social care programs; the role of research in humanitarian and development assistance; and the role of faith communities in supporting recovery.



MSc, 1985, University of Birningham, UK
PhD, 1983, University College, Cardiff, UK
BA, 1978, University of Keele, UK

Mailman Affiliations

Faculty, Global Health Initiative

Editorial Boards

Journal of Refugee Studies
International Journal of Migration, Health & Social Care

Areas of Expertise

Research Design and Methods, Community Programs and Outreach, Social / Cultural Issues, Underserved Populations, Violence, Global Health, Refugee Health, Healthcare Policy, Managed Care

Select Urban Health Activities

Tracking refugee adjustment, adaptation and integration on resettlement in the US: Church World Service (CWS) is one of the largest organizations in the US working to support refugee resettlement. CWS has supported the settlement of over 70,000 refugees across 36 sites in the US since 1999. Committed to a deeper understanding of the outcomes of their resettlement work, CWS will work with Columbia University to explore the insights into adaptation and integration available from pre-existing data held by the organization. Focusing on three sites (Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; and Harrisonburg, Virginia) researchers will identify from data on over 7,000 refugee households predictors of successful adaptation and integration.

Select Global Activities

Child Friendly Spaces in Emergencies, Ethiopia: Child Friendly Spaces (CFSs) are a widely used tool to help support and protect children in the context of emergencies. CFSs are used by a growing number of agencies to help support basic child protection and psychosocial well-being as part of humanitarian response. However, little robust evidence of the impact of such interventions is currently available. In an effort to address this growing need for an evidence base, World Vision International is partnering with Columbia University in a research and learning project. The focus is on documenting the impact of CFSs on children's social and emotional well-being, sense of security and protection and, where appropriate, acquisition of skills and competences. A series of action learning studies are planned across a range of contexts to document the protective and restorative effectiveness of CFSs and identify good practice in design and implementation of interventions.
Northern Nigeria Maternal Neonatal and Child Health Program, Nigeria: In 2008 the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) programme was established in three states in northern Nigeria (Katsina, Yobe, and Zamfara). With co-funding from the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom (DfID) and Government of Norway, the MNCH programme represents a strategic attempt to assist states in reducing the unacceptably high rates of maternal, newborn and child mortality through systems changes addressing issues of health governance, human resources, health information utilisation and community engagement alongside the strengthening of clinical services. Alastair Ager, Sally Findley and Henry Doctor of the Department of Population and Family Health provide technical support to the program in the area of operations and implantation research. This work regularly involves student placements with the PRINN-MNCH team in Nigeria.
A Household Yeast Biosensor for Cholera: A Bill and Melinda Gates Grand Challenges award is supporting development of cholera bio-sensor. Viginia Cornish and Nili Ostrov in the Chemistry Department are developing a prototype sensor for cholera using baker's yeast. Mailman faculty in EHS, PopFam and HPM are providing technical support regarding the potential use, formulation and marketing of the biosensor.

Select Publications

Ager, A. & Ager, J. Faith and the discourse of secular humanitarianism Journal of Refugee Studies in press
Ager, A., Akesson, B., Stark, L., Flouri, E., Okot, B.,McCollister, F & Boothby, N The impact of the school-based Psychosocial Structured Activities (PSSA) program on conflict-affected children in northern Uganda . Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry in press
Ager, A, Ager, W, Stavrou, V. & Boothby, N. Inter-Agency Guide to the Evaluation of Psychosocial Programming in Emergencies. UNICEF UNICEF 2011
Ager, A, Stark, L, Olsen, J, Wessells, M & Boothby, N. Sealing the Past, Facing the Future: An Evaluation of a Program to Support the Reintegration of Girls and Young Women Formerly Associated with Armed Groups and Forces in Sierra Leone. Girlhood Studies 3 (2) 70-93 2010
Stark, L., Roberts, L, Wheaton, W., Acham, A., Boothby, N. & Ager, A Measuring Violence against Women amidst War and Displacement in Northern Uganda Using the "Neighborhood Method" Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 64 (12) 1056-61 2010
Ager, A., Boothby, N. & Bremer, M Using the framework of the "protective environment" to analyze the protection needs of children in Darfur Disasters in press 2009
Stark, L., Boothby, N. & Ager, A. The Reintegration of Children Associated with Fighting Forces: Ten Years on From Cape Town Disasters in press 2009
Ager, A. & Strang, A. Understanding integration: a conceptual framework. Journal of Refugee Studies 21 (2) 166-191 2008
Ager, A. & Pepper, K. Patterns of health service utilization and perceptions of needs and services in rural Orissa Health Policy & Planning 20 (3) 176-184 2005

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