James Phillips

James Phillips

James Phillips

Professor Emeritus
Population and Family Health at the Columbia University Medical Center
Chair, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health


60 Haven Avenue, Suite B-2
New York NY USA 10032
Website address: Email: CV:


James Phillips is an Emeritus Professor who conducted research on health systems strengthening in Africa and Asia. Dr. Phillips collaborated with the Ghana Health Service in designing, implementing, and evaluating the Navrongo Experiment, a study that provided evidence that community-based services could improve child survival and catalyze fertility decline in a traditional African societal setting. Service systems of the project became the model for the national Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) Initiative. Dr. Phillips developed methods for accelerating the pace of scaling-up system strengthening interventions and evaluating demographic outcomes. He directed the design and implementation of a randomized cluster trial of community-based primary health care in Tanzania that tested the childhood survival impact of transferring the CHPS service model to rural Tanzanian districts. He developed implementation science tools for evidence-based scale-up of health system innovations. He collaborated with international organizations on establishing research networks for supporting demographic surveillance, vaccine safety, service innovation scaling-up, and female genital mutilation abandonment. Dr. Phillips published books on methods for the evaluation of population programs, the demography of South Asia, and the impact of health services in Bangladesh. He holds an MS in Population Studies from the University of Hawaii and a PhD in demography from the University of Michigan.


PhD, 1980, University of Michigan
MSc, 1972, University of Hawaii
BS, 1967, University of Michigan

Mailman Affiliations

Professor Emeritus, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health
Special Lecturer, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health

Editorial Boards

Africa Population Journal
Global Health: Policy and Practice
BioMed Central Health Systems Research

Columbia Affiliations

Member, Columbia Population Research Center

Academic Appointments

Special Lecturer, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health

Other Affiliations

Honors & Awards

Marjorie Horn Award for Excellence in Operations Research, USAID
Presidential Award for Excellence in Partnership, Republic of Ghana, 2005
Dean's Mentoring Award, Mailman School of Public Health, 2013
Outstanding Support Award, INDEPTH Network, 2010

Select Global Activities

Senior Advisor, Community-based Health Planning and Services: Provided advisory support to the Navrongo Community Health and Family Planning Project, a program of mobilizing social traditions for supporting community health services in a northern Ghanaian district. Collaborated with the Ghana Health Service on a program of evidence-based scaling up of the Navrongo project.
The Ghana Essential Health Intervention Program: Coordinates a study of the child survival impact of health systems development innovations in Ghana
The Connect Project, Ifakara Health Institute, Tanzania: Conducted a randomized cluster trial of the child survival impact of community-based primary health care in rural Tanzania.

Select Publications

Phillips, James F., Mallory C. Sheff, Christopher B. Boyer. The astronomy of health systems literature in Africa during the MDG era: where are the systems clusters? Global Health: Science and Practice. 2015;3(3):482-502. http://dx.doi.org/10.9745/GHSP-D-15-00034.
Ramsey, Kathryn, Ahmed Hingora, Malick Kante, Elizabeth Jackson, Amon Exavery, Senga Pemba, Fatuma Manzi, Colin Baynes, Stephane Helleringer, James F. Phillips. 2013. The Tanzania Connect Project: A cluster-randomized trial of the child survival impact of adding paid community health workers to an existing facility-focused health system, BioMed Central Health Services Research, 13 (Supplement 2):S6 doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-S2-S6.
Phillips, James F., Elizabeth F. Jackson, Ayaga A. Bawah, Bruce MacLeod, Philip Adongo, Colin D, Baynes. 2012. The long term fertility impact of the Navrongo Project in northern Ghana, Studies in Family Planning 43(3):175-190.
Phillips, James F., Tanya C. Jones, Frank K. Nyonator, and Shruti Ravikumar. 2007. Evidence-based scaling up of health and family planning service innovations in Bangladesh and Ghana, in Ruth Simmons, Peter Fajans and Laura Ghiron (eds.). Scaling Up Health Service Delivery: From Pilot Innovations to Policies and Programmes, World Health Organization, Geneva, pp 113-134.
Phillips, J., Bawah, A., Binka, F. Accelerating reproductive and child health programme impact: The Navrongo Experiment in Ghana Bulletin of the World Health Organization 84 949-955 2006
Nyonator, F., Awoonor-Williams, J., Phillips, J., Jones, T., Miller, R. The Ghana Community-based Health Planning and Services Initiative: Fostering evidence-based organizational change and development in a resource-constrained setting Health Policy and Planning 20(1) 25-34 2005
Phillips, James F, John Koku Awoonor-Williams, Ayaga A. Bawah, Belinda Afriyie Nimako, Nicholas Kanlisi, Mallory C. Sheff, Elizabeth F. Jackson, Patrick O. Asuming, Adriana Biney, Pearl Kyei. 2018. What do you do with success? The science of scaling up a health systems strengthening intervention in Ghana. BMC, Health Services Research, DOI: 10.1186/s12913-018-3250-3.
Phillips, James F. 2003. Demographic surveillance systems In Paul Demeny and Geoffrey McNicoll (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Population. London: MacMillan, pp. 204-206.
Sathar, Zeba Ayesha and James F. Phillips (eds.). 2001. Fertility Transition in South Asia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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