Clinical Focus

  • Internal Medicine

Academic Appointments

  • Clinical Assistant Professor, Medicine

Honors & Awards

  • Marshall Scholarship, Marshall Commission (2006-2010)
  • Junior Dean, University College, Oxford (2007-2009)
  • FSI Action Fund Grant, Freeman Spogli Institute (2012, 2013)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Chief Health Officer, CollectiveHealth (2013 - Present)

Professional Education

  • Residency:Stanford University Hospital -Clinical Excellence Research Center (2013) CA
  • Medical Education:University of California, San Francisco (2009) CA
  • DPhil, Oxford University, International Relations (Political Economy) (2010)
  • MA, Stanford University, History (2003)
  • BA, Stanford University, History (2003)


All Publications

  • Targets for non-communicable disease: what has happened since the UN summit? BMJ (Clinical research ed.) Ho, J. K., Batniji, R. 2013; 346: f3300-?

    View details for DOI 10.1136/bmj.f3300

    View details for PubMedID 23693060

  • Searching for dignity. Lancet Batniji, R. 2012; 380 (9840): 466-467

    View details for PubMedID 22870512

  • Misfinancing global health: a case for transparency in disbursements and decision making LANCET Sridhar, D., Batniji, R. 2008; 372 (9644): 1185-1191


    To address the gap between health investments and financial flows worldwide, we identified the patterns in allocation of funds by the four largest donors--ie, the World Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the US Government, and the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria--in 2005. We created a disbursement database with information gathered from the annual reports and budgets. Funding per death varied widely according to type of disease--eg, US$1029.10 for HIV/AIDS to $3.21 for non-communicable diseases. The World Bank, US Government, and Global Fund provided more than 98% of their funds to service delivery, whereas BMGF gave most of its funds to research. BMGF grants in 2005 were given largely to private research organisations, universities, and civil societies in rich countries, whereas the US Government and Global Fund primarily disbursed grants to sub-Saharan Africa. Publicly available data for global health disbursements is incomplete and not standardised. Continued attention is needed to develop country ownership, particularly in planning and priority setting.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000259734700034

    View details for PubMedID 18926279

  • Governance and health in the Arab world LANCET Batniji, R., Khatib, L., Cammett, M., Sweet, J., Basu, S., Jamal, A., Wise, P., Giacaman, R. 2014; 383 (9914): 343-355


    Since late 2010, the Arab world has entered a tumultuous period of change, with populations demanding more inclusive and accountable government. The region is characterised by weak political institutions, which exclude large proportions of their populations from political representation and government services. Building on work in political science and economics, we assess the extent to which the quality of governance, or the extent of electoral democracy, relates to adult, infant, and maternal mortality, and to the perceived accessibility and improvement of health services. We compiled a dataset from the World Bank, WHO, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Arab Barometer Survey, and other sources to measure changes in demographics, health status, and governance in the Arab World from 1980 to 2010. We suggest an association between more effective government and average reductions in mortality in this period; however, there does not seem to be any relation between the extent of democracy and mortality reductions. The movements for changing governance in the region threaten access to services in the short term, forcing migration and increasing the vulnerability of some populations. In view of the patterns observed in the available data, and the published literature, we suggest that efforts to improve government effectiveness and to reduce corruption are more plausibly linked to population health improvements than are efforts to democratise. However, these patterns are based on restricted mortality data, leaving out subjective health metrics, quality of life, and disease-specific data. To better guide efforts to transform political and economic institutions, more data are needed for health-care access, health-care quality, health status, and access to services of marginalised groups.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62185-6

    View details for Web of Science ID 000330212600034

    View details for PubMedID 24452043

  • Assessing the Syrian health crisis: the case of Lebanon LANCET Coutts, A., Fouad, F. M., Batniji, R. 2013; 381 (9875): E9-E9
  • THE ARAB SPRING AND HEALTH: TWO YEARS ON INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HEALTH SERVICES Coutts, A., Stuckler, D., Batniji, R., Ismail, S., Maziak, W., McKee, M. 2013; 43 (1): 49-60


    The "Arab Spring" has touched almost all countries in the Middle East and North Africa. While most attention has focused on security and political developments, there are significant consequences for population health. These include immediate problems, such as violent deaths and injuries, population displacement, and damage to essential infrastructure, but also longer term vulnerabilities not yet addressed by the political changes, including high unemployment, the low status of women, erosion of already weak welfare systems, and rising food prices. It will be important to tackle these underlying issues while not repeating the mistakes made in other countries that have undergone rapid political transition.

    View details for DOI 10.2190/HS.43.1.d

    View details for Web of Science ID 000314593000004

    View details for PubMedID 23527453

  • The Morality of Saved Lives AMERICAN JOURNAL OF BIOETHICS Batniji, R., Wise, P. H. 2012; 12 (12): 1-2

    View details for DOI 10.1080/15265161.2012.739388

    View details for Web of Science ID 000312338300004

    View details for PubMedID 23215917

  • Protecting health: thinking small BULLETIN OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION Sinha, S. R., Batniji, R. 2010; 88 (9): 713-715

    View details for DOI 10.2471/BLT.09.071530

    View details for Web of Science ID 000282673900016

    View details for PubMedID 20865078

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2930363

  • AN EVALUATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND'S CLAIMS ABOUT PUBLIC HEALTH INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HEALTH SERVICES Stuckler, D., Basu, S., Gilmore, A., Batniji, R., Ooms, G., Marphatia, A. A., Hammonds, R., McKee, M. 2010; 40 (2): 327-332


    The International Monetary Fund's recent claims concerning its impact on public health are evaluated against available data. First, the IMF claims that health spending either does not change or increases with IMF-supported programs, but there is substantial evidence to the contrary. Second, the IMF claims to have relaxed strict spending requirements in response to the 2008-9 financial crisis, but there is no evidence supporting this claim, and some limited evidence from the Center for Economic Policy Research contradicting it. Third, the IMF states that wage ceilings on public health are no longer part of its explicit conditionalities to poor countries, as governments can choose how to achieve public spending targets; but in practice, ministers are left with few viable alternatives than to reduce health budgets to achieve specific IMF-mandated targets, so the result effectively preserves former policy. Fourth, the IMF's claim that it has increased aid to poor countries also seems to be contradicted by its policies of diverting aid to reserves, as well as evidence that a very small fraction of the Fund's new lending in response to the financial crisis has reached poor countries. Finally, the IMF's claim that it follows public health standards in tobacco control contrasts with its existing policies, which fail to follow the guidelines recommended by the World Bank and World Health Organization. The authors recommend that the IMF (1) become more transparent in its policies, practices, and data to allow improved independent evaluations of its impact on public health (including Health Impact Assessment) and (2) review considerable public health evidence indicating a negative association between its current policies and public health outcomes.

    View details for DOI 10.2190/HS.40.2.m

    View details for Web of Science ID 000277258100013

    View details for PubMedID 20440976

  • Health in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 4 Health as human security in the occupied Palestinian territory LANCET Batniji, R., Rabaia, Y., Nguyen-Gillham, V., Giacaman, R., Sarraj, E., Punamaki, R., Saab, H., Boyce, W. 2009; 373 (9669): 1133-1143


    We describe the threats to survival, development, and wellbeing in the occupied Palestinian territory using human security as a framework. Palestinian security has deteriorated rapidly since 2000. More than 6000 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli military, with more than 1300 killed in the Gaza Strip during 22 days of aerial and ground attacks ending in January, 2009. Israeli destruction and control of infrastructure has severely restricted fuel supplies and access to water and sanitation. Palestinians are tortured in prisons and humiliated at Israeli checkpoints. The separation wall and the checkpoints prevent access to work, family, sites of worship, and health-care facilities. Poverty rates have risen sharply, and almost half of Palestinians are dependent on food aid. Social cohesion, which has kept Palestinian society intact, including the health-care system, is now strained. More than US$9 billion in international aid have not promoted development because Palestinians do not have basic security. International efforts focused on prevention of modifiable causes of insecurity, reinvigoration of international norms, support of Palestinian social resilience and institutions that protect them from threats, and a political solution are needed to improve human security in the occupied Palestinian territory.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60110-0

    View details for Web of Science ID 000264773600034

    View details for PubMedID 19268352



    Despite optimism about the potential for a "new economic order," the outcomes of the G20 summit of April 2009 do not deviate from the neoliberal path. The main outcome, the G20's commitment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), does not change the lending practices and core economic assumptions of the IMF. Further, this new funding commitment will do little to help the poorest countries, as it is not available to them and comes with high interest. Institutions that more actively consider health, such as the World Bank and World Health Organization, may have failed to win resources and authority because they have not demonstrated how they could expand or modify their activities, and because of broader ideological debates pitting social protection against economic stimulus. Reforms in IMF practices and economic assumptions may provide some limited protection of health spending. These reforms can allow for inclusion of the benefits of health programs in economic forecasting, dismissal of the assumption that aid will be short-term, and removal of indirect limits on public sector health spending. These reforms in IMF practices are urgently needed, but fall short of making health and social protection an integral component of efforts promoting economic stability.

    View details for DOI 10.2190/HS.39.4.k

    View details for Web of Science ID 000271559500011

    View details for PubMedID 19927415

  • Coordination and accountability in the World Health Assembly LANCET Batniji, R. 2008; 372 (9641): 805-805

    View details for Web of Science ID 000259124900020

    View details for PubMedID 18774416

  • Barriers to improvement of mental health services in low-income and middle-income countries. Lancet Saraceno, B., van Ommeren, M., Batniji, R., Cohen, A., Gureje, O., Mahoney, J., Sridhar, D., Underhill, C. 2007; 370 (9593): 1164-1174


    Despite the publication of high-profile reports and promising activities in several countries, progress in mental health service development has been slow in most low-income and middle-income countries. We reviewed barriers to mental health service development through a qualitative survey of international mental health experts and leaders. Barriers include the prevailing public-health priority agenda and its effect on funding; the complexity of and resistance to decentralisation of mental health services; challenges to implementation of mental health care in primary-care settings; the low numbers and few types of workers who are trained and supervised in mental health care; and the frequent scarcity of public-health perspectives in mental health leadership. Many of the barriers to progress in improvement of mental health services can be overcome by generation of political will for the organisation of accessible and humane mental health care. Advocates for people with mental disorders will need to clarify and collaborate on their messages. Resistance to decentralisation of resources must be overcome, especially in many mental health professionals and hospital workers. Mental health investments in primary care are important but are unlikely to be sustained unless they are preceded or accompanied by the development of community mental health services, to allow for training, supervision, and continuous support for primary care workers. Mobilisation and recognition of non-formal resources in the community must be stepped up. Community members without formal professional training and people who have mental disorders and their family members, need to partake in advocacy and service delivery. Population-wide progress in access to humane mental health care will depend on substantially more attention to politics, leadership, planning, advocacy, and participation.

    View details for PubMedID 17804061

  • Mental and social health in disasters: Relating qualitative social science research and the Sphere standard SOCIAL SCIENCE & MEDICINE Batniji, R., van Ommeren, M., Saraceno, B. 2006; 62 (8): 1853-1864


    Increasingly, social scientists interested in mental and social health conduct qualitative research to chronicle the experiences of and humanitarian responses to disaster We reviewed the qualitative social science research literature in relation to a significant policy document, the Sphere Handbook, which includes a minimum standard in disaster response addressing "mental and social aspects of health", involving 12 interventions indicators. The reviewed literature in general supports the relevance of the Sphere social health intervention indicators. However, social scientists' chronicles of the diversity and complexity of communities and responses to disaster illustrate that these social interventions cannot be assumed helpful in all settings and times. With respect to Sphere mental health intervention indicators, the research largely ignores the existence and well-being of persons with pre-existing, severe mental disorders in disasters, whose well-being is addressed by the relevant Sphere standard. Instead, many social scientists focus on and question the relevance of posttraumatic stress disorder-focused interventions, which are common after some disasters and which are not specifically covered by the Sphere standard. Overall, social scientists appear to call for a social response that more actively engages the political, social, and economic causes of suffering, and that recognizes the social complexities and flux that accompany disaster. By relating social science research to the Sphere standard for mental and social health, this review informs and illustrates the standard and identifies areas of needed research.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.08.050

    View details for Web of Science ID 000237161000003

    View details for PubMedID 16202495