School of Social and Political Science

Michaela Hubmann

Job Title

PhD title: After Ebola in Sierra Leone: Politics of Neglect and Governance Gaps in Health System Recovery


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My research provides a medical anthropological account of the Sierra Leonean post-Ebola recovery initiative, how it was implemented by a district health management team, and how these policies trickled down and were reinterpreted at the district and the community level. To make sense of the recovery priorities, my research unpacks the broader structures which underpin global health governance, its policies and its attempts to strengthen ‘weak’ health systems. The case of post-Ebola recovery in Sierra Leone is an exemplary case of how intrinsic the politics of neglect are within global health governance. I conducted thirteen months of research which was divided into two distinct phases: district level and community level. At the district level, I spent eight months with a district health management team; at the community level, I spent five months in a hard-to-reach chiefdom.

Academic history

2015 – present: PhD candidate in African Studies, University of Edinburgh

2013 – 14: MSc Medical Anthropology & Sociology, University of Amsterdam

2010 – 13: BSc Social Anthropology, Brunel University

Teaching experience


International Development: Research Design and Practice (MSc) (2020-2021)

Social Anthropology 1B: Anthropology Matters (2020)

Introduction to Systematic Literature Reviews (MPH) (2019)

International Development, Aid & Humanitarianism (1st and 2nd year UG) (2019)

Infectious Diseases and Global Governance (3rd-year UG) (2018)

International Development, Aid & Humanitarianism (1st and 2nd year UG) (2017)


Ebola, whose science is it? University of Edinburgh (2018)

Social factors of behavioural emergencies; COMAHS & Njala University, Bo, Sierra Leone. (2016)

Introduction to Medical Anthropology, Njala University, Bo, Sierra Leone. (2016)

Conference presentations

Hubmann, M. (2019). "Delivering Public Good: New Forms of bureaucratic management to strengthen the post-Ebola health system in Sierra Leone". ECAS. University of Edinburgh.

Hubmann, M. (2018). "An ethnographic investigation of the National Emergency Service training phase in Bo, Southern Sierra Leone". Symposium of the Sierra Leone Health & Biomedical Research Association.

Hubmann, M. (2017). “Socio-cultural and structural factors influencing Maternal Mortality Rates in Bo District: An Anthropological Investigation”. Symposium of the Sierra Leone Health & Biomedical Research Association.


Hubmann, M. (forthcoming). Chronicity of Project Disruptive Rhythms: The projectification of the ‘post-Ebola’ health system rebuilding in Sierra Leone. Time & Society.

Hubmann, M. (in preparation). The Production of the Politics of Neglect during the Ebola epidemic and recovery period in Sierra Leone. Social Science & Medicine.


Hubmann, M. (2015). Ebola in West Africa: The ‘new era’ of global public health, scapegoating, healthcare strengthening reforms and post-Ebola survival effects. CAS from the Edge.…

Awards, grants and scholarships

Laura Bassi Scholarship - partial award (2019)

Funds for Women Graduates (FfWG) (2018)

Extended fieldwork grant, Economic and Social Research Council (2016), University of Edinburgh

Wellcome-Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund (2015), University of Edinburgh

Global Development Academy Fieldwork Research Grant (2015), University of Edinburgh, UK

Award of a full PhD Scholarship from the Economic and Social Research Council (2014), UK

Award for the best Anthropology Dissertation of the year 2013, Brunel University, UK

The Sidney Perry Foundation Educational Grant (2012 & 2013), UK

Various small grants awarded by Rotary Clubs in London (2012), UK


Commitment to Action Fellow, Clinton Global Initiative University

My Commitment To Action (CTA) Fellowship project will help facilitate the development of a new Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) for typhoid fever. This new RDT should contribute to the reduction of the high typhoid mortality and morbidity rates in Sierra Leone by 50% in the first year, and by 80% in 24 months. In order to achieve these goals, collaborations are sought with Njala University, COMAHS and Mercy Hospital Research Laboratory. The first RDT prototype should be developed by December 2020, with a three-month field trial to follow. It is envisioned that the prototype must detect the correct typhoid bacteria in at least 95% of the trial participants.

The envisioned project is different insofar as it is locally owned and produced and that it is aimed that the test will produce sensitivity and specificity of above 95%, ideally 98%. It is further unique as it proposes an economic aspect with the mass-production taking place in Sierra Leone. Another point of uniqueness is the social science research component which will run parallel at the later stages of this project. Furthermore, a mixed-method longitude study is envisaged once the mass-production is up and running. By collaborating with local and international research partners, we will have a broad spectrum of expertise at hand.

Our short-term goal is to develop an RDT prototype with high sensitivity and specificity. The long-term goal is to have an RDT with 100% sensitivity and specificity, which can be mass-produced. We will disseminate the data we produced during the prototype trial in peer-reviewed journals, as well as to the MoHS. Furthermore, we will hold nationwide workshops with healthcare worker and pharmacists on how to use the RDT. We will also conduct a qualitative study on the acceptance of the RDT prototype amongst health care worker, pharmacists and patients. The results will also be published in peer-reviewed journals.

Research interests

Research interests

Anthropology of Global Health, Medical Anthropology, Health systems and global health, Health systems strengthening, Politics of health, Public health, Global Health Policy, State building, Forms of Citizenship, New forms of Manageralism, Time,temporality & chronicity, Global and Public Health Governance