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Priscilla Magrath PhD

Priscilla   Magrath PhD

Senior Lecturer

Health Promotion Sciences Department

1295 N. Martin Ave
Drachman Hall
PO Box: 245163
Tucson AZ 85724-5163
(520) 626-2850


Priscilla Magrath, PhD, joined the College of Public Health in January 2018. She is a Medical Anthropologist specializing in global health policy and practice. Recent work in Indonesia has examined how global health policies are interpreted and implemented in the areas of decentralization, health insurance and maternal health. Priscilla is especially interested in the use of moral frames such as the right to health in health policy and health promotion.

Priscilla has extensive experience in international health programs including working with USAID on an ongoing major urban WASH program in Indonesia; with WaterAid on WASH access issues for people living with HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia; with CARE on the impact of HIV/AIDS on livelihoods in Lesotho; and with the World Bank on health care access, public accountability, decentralization and health financing in Indonesia.


2019 Magrath, Priscilla. “Right to Health: A Buzzword for Health Policy in Indonesia.” In Special Issue “Ethnographic Explorations of the Right to Health in Practice.” Medical Anthropology: Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness. 38(6):464-447. DOI: 10.1080/01459740.2019.1604701
2012 Magrath, Priscilla and Mark Nichter. “Paying for Performance and the Social Relations of Health Care Provision: An Anthropological Perspective.” Social Science and Medicine 75(10):1778-1785.
2010 Magrath, Priscilla. “Beyond Governmentality: Building Theory for Weak and Fragile States,” Anthropology Matters Journal 12(2):1-18.
1997 Magrath, Priscilla, Julia Compton, Anthony Ofosu and Felix Motte. “Cost-benefit Analysis of Client Participation in Agricultural Research: A Case Study from Ghana,” Agricultural Research and Extension Network Paper No.74b, Overseas Development Institute, London, UK.

Courses Taught

  • Global Health
  • Global Health Systems
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Changing Health Policy

Research Synopsis

My research focuses on how global health policies intersect with national and local policies in the areas of decentralization, maternal and child health and health insurance. Current projects in this area include an analysis of Indonesia’s policy of partnership between skilled midwives and traditional midwives. A second focus is in understanding the complexity of health behaviors as both habitual and socially embedded and the implications of this for health promotion for behavioral change. Projects in this area include an analysis of the moral framing of health messaging in Indonesia and an investigation of behaviors around plastic straw use at the University of Arizona campus.

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