Health System Strengthening in Sub-Saharan Africa

PhD & Postdoc Team



Lienkie Diedericks 2.PNG

Heilien (Lienkie) Diedericks

Lienkie is joining the ASSET project as a PhD student from the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at King's College London. Her PhD is funded generously by the NIHR ASSET grant. Lienkie is currently completing an MSc in Bioethics and Society at King's, with her dissertation focusing on the ethical and regulatory implications of pharmaceutical drugs being embedded with ingestible sensors to track adherence. She holds a postgraduate Honours degree in Analytical Philosophy and a BA in Philosophy and French from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.  Lienkie is fascinated by how social science, philosophy and interdisciplinary methodological approaches can be applied to improve health care policies and interventions. Coming from South Africa, she has a vested interest in understanding how poverty and social conditions can influence healthcare access in disadvantaged communities of Sub-Saharan Africa.



Alessandra has been appointed as a PhD Fellow at King’s College London, funded by the NIHR ASSET grant. Prior to joining the team, Alessandra worked as a third-sector management consultant, supporting a range of health and community care providers (in developing service solutions, operational strategies and transformation programmes). Alessandra holds an MSc in Global Health from Uppsala University, Sweden, and a BSc in Natural Sciences from Durham University, UK. During her studies, she worked as an intern at the United Nations headquarters with the Every Woman Every Child EOSG team, and at the Nuffield Trust.Her passions lie in working towards universal health coverage and transforming local health systems to improve patient experience. She is a strong believer in the power of interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral, cross-country collaboration in addressing both global and local healthcare challenges.“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

p and oj copy2.jpg


Dr Oliver Johnson is a PhD student with the Health Service & Population Health Department at the King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, where he is researching whether participation in a structured quality improvement programme strengthen the leadership and management capabilities of young clinicians in Sub-Saharan Africa. He is also an honorary researcher at the School of Public Health at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.

Oliver studied Medicine at King’s and International Health at UCL. After graduating, he became a Teaching Fellow and helped to establish the global health education programmes at the King’s Centre for Global Health & Health Partnerships. He was recruited by Lord Crisp in 2011 to help set up the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health in the UK Parliament and worked as the group’s Policy Director until 2012.

From 2013-2015 he was the founding Director of the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership in Freetown, during which time he was actively involved in the country’s Ebola response. He was awarded an OBE for this work in the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 2015 and co-authored a book about the outbreak entitled Getting to Zero: a Doctor and a Diplomat on the Ebola Frontline. He then worked a Strategy & Technical Advisor for Africa Health Placements in South Africa. From 2017-2018 he helped lead the development of a 10-year strategy for the King’s Global Health Partnerships in Somaliland, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo.



Tanya Robbins MBChB, MRCOG is a Senior Registrar training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She has been appointed as a PhD Fellow at King’s College London funded by the NIHR ASSET grant. She will be working alongside the maternity team in Ethiopia, focusing on barriers and facilitators to care for the three major causes of maternal mortality – haemorrhage, sepsis and pre-eclampsia. Tanya has experience of working clinically in rural and urban settings in LICs, having spent time in The Gambia and India. She has secured funding from the MRC/AHRC Global Public Health Partnership Award (£200,000) for a community engagement and education project in global health (The HAPPEE Partnership Project).


Postdoctoral research

NKHOMA Kennedy 2.jpg


In 2004, Dr Kennedy Nkhoma qualified as a nurse in Malawi and worked as a general nurse at a local hospital. Between 2008 and 2009, he was awarded a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme which enabled him to study MSc in Palliative and End of Life Care at the University of Nottingham. After returning to Malawi, he worked as a clinical nurse and nurse educator at a local nursing school. He returned to the UK in 2011 for PhD studies, which he successfully completed in 2015 at the University of Nottingham.

Kennedy's PhD was a clinical trial of an educational intervention consisting of an information leaflet, face-to-face discussion and phone call reminder among HIV/AIDS patients and their family carers in Malawi. He joined Kings College London in September 2016 on a Florence Nightingale Postdoctoral Research Training Fellowship.

In March, 2018 Kennedy accepted a post of Research Associate Global Health Palliative Care: ASSET (HeAlth Systems StrEngThening in sub-Saharan Africa), an NIHR funded project which focuses on primary health care interventions for COPD patients, with study sites in Cape Town, South  Africa.