Professor Sharifah SekalalaFAcSS

  • Law

Professor of Global Health Law, University of Warwick 

Professor Sharifah Sekalala was conferred to the Fellowship of the Academy in spring 2024. She is Professor of Global Health Law at the University of Warwick and her deeply interdisciplinary work sits at the intersection of international law, public policy and global health. Sharifah’s research addresses complex and pressing issues around health crises in Sub-Saharan Africa, international financing institutions and the socio-legal impact of new innovations in health, such as digital health.

She has published numerous journal articles in leading legal, international-relations and public-health journals, providing valuable insights and innovative solutions to mitigate health inequalities, and she has actively disseminated her findings through many presentations at international conferences. Sharifah’s work has enriched the academic discourse and informed policy and decision-making processes and contributed to the advancement of global health and social justice. Her work has been funded by the Wellcome Trust, ESRC and Open Society Foundation, underscoring the relevance and importance of the challenges that she seeks to address. Sharifah has also worked with grassroots organisations as well as international organisations such as UNAIDS, the WHO and the International Labour Organisation.

Sharifah is currently the Principal Investigator on a 1.4 million Euro Wellcome-Trust-funded project on digital health apps in Sub-Saharan Africa. Encompassing law, bioethics, entrepreneurship, epidemiology and policy, the project investigates the colonial nature of digital health apps in the region and the role of regulation in mitigating harm from new digital health innovations. Sharifah is an Associate Fellow of Chatham House’s Global Health Programme, and she currently sits on the Strategic Advisory Network of the ESRC.

Find out more about Professor Sharifah Sekalala.

Why do the social sciences important matter?

Health crises have illustrated how the social sciences are critical to understanding why some people are impacted more than others during crises, which interventions people will find acceptable and how critical law is in enabling governments to respond to pandemics.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I see law as more than what is written in statutes or legislation, and I enjoy thinking critically about the ways in which it impacts on people’s health outcomes.

What is the most urgent issue social scientists need to tackle today and within the next three years?

Currently, social scientists need to be grappling with health inequalities which have significantly widened in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. We need to apply theoretical and conceptual tools to understand and think creatively about how we can address them. This will involve greater interdisciplinary work between the social sciences, humanities and STEM. It can be uncomfortable, because we speak different languages, but bringing a social science perspective to other disciplines is extremely rewarding.

What does being a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences mean to you?

I am delighted to become a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. With health inequalities becoming more visible, we need to think more critically about the ways in which Law is compounding and redressing these inequalities.