Alayne Mary Adams

Alayne Mary Adams
Contact Information
Email address: 
alayne.adams [at]

Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, McGill University
Population Health Director

Biography: Alayne Adams, PhD, joined McGill University in September 2019, following a three-year tenure in the Department of International Health at Georgetown University in Washington DC. From 2010 to 2016 she lived in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where she held the position of Senior Social Scientist at the icddr,b, a reputed international population health research center. Prof. Adams was also involved in the founding of the BRAC James P. Grant School of Public Health, and its Center for Urban Equity and Health. Her relationship with both institutions continues to the present, with appointments as Adjunct Scientist and Professor, respectively. Prior to Bangladesh, Prof. Adams served as Executive Director of the Joint Learning Initiative on Children and HIV/AIDS, a global research-to-policy collaboration involving international and bilateral agencies, NGOs, foundations and northern and southern academic partners. She began her academic career at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health following post-doc work as a MacArthur Fellow at the Harvard Centre for Population and Development Studies. A recipient of the Commonwealth Scholarship, she completed her PhD in Public Health and an MSc in Human Nutrition at the London School of Tropical Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She was also a James McGill scholar, earning her BA honors in political science and international development at McGill University. She is leading Population Health activities within the Department of Family Medicine, and acts as liason with McGill’s new School of Population and Global Health.

Research Interests: Alayne Adams is an applied social scientist with expertise in global urban health and nutrition, health systems research and the social determinants of health in Africa and South Asia. Broadly speaking, her research investigates the complex realities that give rise to health inequities and innovates evidence-based solutions. Her current work on urban health systems examines a range of demand and supply-side challenges undermining the goal of universal health coverage in rapidly urbanizing low and middle-income countries, with a particular focus on Bangladesh. On the demand side, her research considers the health-seeking behavior of the urban poor and disadvantaged, and the features of community mobilization necessary to spark responsive urban service delivery. With respect to supply side challenges, she has pioneered research that employs GIS and data visualization techniques to improve the coverage and accountability of urban health services. Of particular interest is the urban private-for-profit sector. She has led qualitative and mixed methods studies examining the strategies and motivations of urban private sector providers and contributed to the design of implementation research testing participatory models of quality improvement in for-profit clinic settings. In Bangladesh, she is also involved in research and policy advocacy work on adolescent nutrition and food security in urban informal settlements. Her work has been funded by NIH, NSF, UNICEF, IDRC, DFID, GIZ, MRC, Wellcome Trust and WHO Alliance. As a global health educator, Prof. Adams is interested in pedagogic innovation, and has developed and applied a variety of teaching methods including experiential and case-based learning, problem-solving and participatory methods, as well as story-telling, empathy mapping, and a wide range of hands-on approaches. Her aspiration is to allow students to apply (and interrogate) theory in light of real-world problems, instill comfort with complexity, and respect and capacity for interdisciplinary work and thinking.

Keywords: Global Health, Social Determinants of Health, Health Equity, Urban Health Systems, Primary Health Care, Informal Settlements, Underserved Populations, Urban Nutrition and Food Security, Chronic Disease, Social Prescription, Youth Mental Health and Wellness, Informal Healthcare, Knowledge Translation, Global Health Education, Qualitative and Mixed-Methods.

Publication record: Prof. Adams has published in a wide variety of high impact peer-reviewed publications. A selection is listed below:

Ahmed, A., Adams, A.M., Islam, R., Hasan, S.M., & R. Panciera (2019). Impact of traffic variability on geographic accessibility to 24/7 emergency healthcare for the urban poor: a GIS study in Dhaka, Bangladesh. PLoS One. 2019 Sep 16;14(9):e0222488. https://doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.022248

Adams, A.M., Ahmed, R., Tanzir, S., Yusuf, S., Akhter, S. & I. Anwar (2019). An exploratory qualitative study to understand the underlying motivations and strategies of the private-for profit healthcare sector in urban Bangladesh. BMJ Open; 9:e026586.

https://doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026586

Begum,T., Nababan, H., Rahman, A., Islam, R., Adams, A.M., &I. Anwar (2019). Monitoring caesarean births using the Robson ten group classification system: A cross-sectional survey of private for-profit facilities in urban Bangladesh. PLoS One.

Adams, A.M., Nambiar, D., Siddiqi, S., Alam, B.B., & S. Reddy (2018). Advancing universal health coverage in South Asian cities: a framework. BMJ; 363.

Adams, A.M., Vuckovic, M., Birch, E., Brant, T.A., Bialek, S., Yoon, D., Koroma J., Direny, A., Shott, J., Lemoine, J.F., Dembele, M. & M.C. Baker (2018). Eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases in urban areas: a review of challenges, strategies and research directions for successful mass drug administration Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 3(4), 122;

Das, P., Kim, D. & A.M. Adams (2018). Understanding spatial and contextual factors influencing intra-regional differences in child vaccination coverage in Bangladesh. Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health

Islam, R., Hossain, S., Bashar, F., Khan S.M., Sikder, A.A.S. & A. M. Adams (2018). Contracting-out urban primary health care in Bangladesh: a qualitative exploration of implementation processes and experience. International Journal for Equity in Health (2018) 17:93

Vargas, V., Ahmed, S. & A.M. Adams (2018). Factors enabling comprehensive maternal health services in the benefits package of emerging financing schemes: A cross-sectional analysis from 1990 to 2014. PLoS ONE 13(9): e0201398.

Shafique, S., Bhattacharyya, D.S., Anwar, I. & A.M. Adams (2018). Right to health and social justice in Bangladesh: ethical dilemmas and obligations of state and non-state actors to ensure health for urban poor. BMC Medical Ethics 19 (Suppl 1): 46

Adams, A.M., Ahmed S.M., and T.G. Evans (January 1, 2018). Universal Health Care in Bangladesh—promises and perils. The Lancet Global Health. Issue 6, no. 1: e10–11,

Devaki, N., Razzak, J., Afsana, J., Adams, A.M., Hasan A., Mohan D. & V. Patel (2017). Mental illness and injuries: the emerging health challenges of urbanization in South Asia. The BMJ; 357;j1126 doi

Adams, A.M., Ahmed, R., Mahbub Latif, A. H. M., Rasheed, S., Das, D.K, Hasib, E., Ferdous, F.D.F., Ahmed, S. & A.S.G. Faruque (2017). Impact of fortified biscuits on micronutrient deficiencies among primary school children in Bangladesh. PLoS ONE 12(4): eD174673.

Rabbani, A., Khan, A., Yusuf, S. & A.M. Adams (2016). Trends and determinants of inequities in childhood stunting in Bangladesh from 1996/7 to 2014. Int J Equity Health 15: 186. Published online 2016 Nov 16. doi: 10.1186/s12939-016-0477-7.

Panciera, R., Khan, A., Rizvi, S.J.R, Ahmed, S., Ahmed, T., Islam, R. & A.M. Adams (2016). The influence of travel time on emergency obstetric care seeking behavior in the urban poor of Bangladesh: A GIS study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 2016 Aug 22; 16:240. doi: 10.1186/s12884-016-1032-7.

Shuvo, T.A., Islam, R. Hossain, S., Evans, J., Khatun, F. Ahmed, T., Gazi, R. & A.M. Adams (2015). eHealth innovations in LMICs of Africa and Asia: a literature review exploring factors affecting implementation, scale-up and sustainability. Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Health. Volume 2015:2 pages 95-106. over 2500 views.

Adams, A.M., Saroj, S., McNab, S & M. Sarker. (2015). Lessons learned in using realist evaluation to assess maternal and newborn health programming in rural Bangladesh. Health Policy and Planning doi: 10.1093/heapol/czv053

Adams, A.M., Islam R. & T. Ahmed (2015). Who serves the urban poor? a geospatial and descriptive analysis of health services in slum settlements in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Health Policy and Planning: 30 (3): i32-i45 doi: 10.1093/heapol/czu094

Adams, A.M., Nababan H.Y. & S.M. Hanifi (2015). Building Social Networks for Maternal and Newborn Health in Poor Urban Settlements: A Cross-Sectional Study in Bangladesh PLoS One 2015 Apr 24;10(4):e0123817. doi: 10.1371/ journal.pone. 0123817. eCollection 2015.

Adams, A.M. et al. (2014).Healthcare seeking in poor urban settlements in Sylhet City Corporation: A quantitative survey. icddr,b & GIZ.

Adams, A.M, et. al (2013). Explaining equity gains in child survival in Bangladesh: scale, speed and selectivity in health and development. The Lancet. November: 46-56.

Adams, A.M et al. (2013). Innovation for universal health coverage in Bangladesh: a call to action. The Lancet. November: 67-74.

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