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Remembering a treasured colleague, Dr Paula Tibandebage

Dr Paula Tibandebage

We are sad to announce that Dr Paula Tibandebage, a long standing and much valued research collaborator, colleague, Visiting Research Fellow in Economics at the OU, and friend of many OU colleagues, has died in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Paula was an outstanding Tanzanian scholar, social researcher and writer, with an international reputation and considerable policy impact.  Her Open University colleagues have gained enormously from her long term collaboration. Paula jointly conceived and developed, with Maureen Mackintosh (Economics) and other OU colleagues, a series of research projects in the broad area of health. Initially, from 1998, she collaborated with us on research on the commercialisation process in Tanzanian health care, building on her own early work. The research included a joint project on the challenges of managing and regulating mixed public/private health systems such as that emerging in Tanzania and many other African countries in the 1990s; and an UNRISD-supported programme of research on health care commercialisation. Paula had a strong commitment to improving maternal care, and she led as PI a ground-breaking project funded by the Wellcome Trust on “Ethics, payments and maternal survival” in Tanzania, on which we collaborated, and published joint writing on gender and health care.  Paula then went on to lead Tanzania collaborative research, with UK and Kenyan colleagues, on the role of local industrial production in strengthening health systems in East Africa.

Paula’s outstanding analytical and field research skills, and her effectiveness in presenting research findings in a form to generate policy influence, were thus central to the development of a whole strand of the OU’s collaborative research and research standing in her field, and the associated funding. Economics and DPP colleagues are currently building on that track record again, in an ongoing project on which she advised, on access to cancer care in East Africa. In 2017 Paula and Maureen Mackintosh looked back at some of their joint work in a piece commissioned by Smita Srinivas called “Starting from here: Challenges in planning for better health care in Tanzania”. 

Paula’s father, Andrew Tibandebage, was a teacher who later served as a Tanzanian ambassador, including in Paris and Bonn. Paula studied Political Science at Dar es Salaam university, and then undertook a Masters’ degree in Seattle, and a doctorate in Political Economy at the University of Texas. In the 1990s, she was one of a small group of Tanzanian intellectuals who built the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF), a pioneering independent Tanzanian public/private think tank under the leadership of Professor Samuel Wangwe. Paula’s research leadership developed a programme of innovative ESRF work on social sectors, notably health and education. Paula also had a commitment to research on gender equality. She later moved to a second Tanzanian research institute, REPOA, with a strong policy orientation, before returning to ESRF as a Principal Research Associate. Paula also put energy into public policy roles: she was a member of the Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) Board of Trustees, and her work contributed to improving social security, notably the TASAF fund to support poor households, and pension funds. Her strongest commitments included improving health care access and quality, with particular reference to maternal health. Her too-early death at 65 is a great loss to Tanzania, and to her family and friends including those in the Open University.

Dr Paula Tibandebage

Professional biography

PhD in Political Economy (University of Texas, Dallas)
Master of Public Affairs (University of Texas, Dallas)
Master of Public Administration (University of Washington)
BA in Political Science and Public Administration (University of Dar es Salaam)

Research interests


2012-14 ‘Industrial productivity, health system performance and policy synergies for inclusive growth: a study in Tanzania and Kenya’ co-investigator, DFIF-ESRC Growth Programme grant, PI Professor Maureen Mackintosh, OU

2012 ‘The Gendered nature of education – labour market linkages: Beyond numbers’; Forum of African Women Educationists *FAWE); PI

2011-2013 ‘Ethics, payments and maternal survival’, Wellcome Trust grant; PI; co-investigators Prof. Maureen Mackintosh (OU, UK), Tausi Kida (ESRF, Tanzania) & Joyce Ikingura (NIMR, Tanzania).

1998-2000 'Managing and regulating emerging mixed health care systems: a Tanzanian case study in comparative perspective’ DFID/ESCOR grant; co-applicant PI Prof. Maureen Mackintosh, OU.

Selected Publications

Mackintosh, M. Banda, G. Tibandebage, P. Wamae, W. (Eds), 2016. Making Medicines in Africa: The Political Economy of Industrializing for Local Health. Palgrave Macmillan

Tibandebage, P. Wangwe, S. Mackintosh, M. Mujinja P. (2015). “Pharmaceutical manufacturing decline in Tanzania: how possible is a turnaround to growth?”. In Mackintosh, M. Banda, G. Tibandebage, P. Wamae, W. (eds).  Making Medicines. In Africa: The Political Economy of Industrializing for Local Health. Palgrave Macmillan.

Mackintosh, M. Tibandebage, P. Kariuki, J. Israel, C.. (2015). “Health systems as industrial policy: building collaborative capabilities in the Tanzanian and Kenyan health sectors and their local suppliers”. In Africa: The Political Economy of Industrializing for Local Health. Palgrave Macmillan.

Mackintosh, M. Tibandebage, P. Kariuki, J. Israel, C.. (2015). “Health systems as industrial policy: building collaborative capabilities in the Tanzanian and Kenyan health sectors and their local suppliers”.

Tibandebage, P. KidaT. Mackintosh, M. & Ikingura, J. (2015), Can managers empower nurse midwives to improve maternal health care? A comparison of two resource-poor hospitals in Tanzania,  International Journal of Health Planningand Management (Early view, currently published online in Wiley Online Library before inclusion in an issue),

Tibandebage, P. & Mackintosh, M. (2010). “Maternal mortality in Africa: A gendered lens on health system failure”. In Ranitch, L. & Leys, C. (eds). Socialist Register 2010. The Merlin Press, London.

Tibandebage, P. (2008). “Pro-poor service delivery in Southern Africa”. In Pressend, M. & M. Ruiters (eds), Dilemmas of Poverty and Development. 72 – 85, The Institute for Global Dialogue, Midrand, South Africa.

Mackintosh, M. & Tibandebage, P. (2008). “Competitive and organizational constraints, investment and quality of care in a liberalized low income health system: Evidence from Tanzania”. In Mackintosh, M., Chataway, J. and M. Wuyts ( Eds), Promoting Innovation, Productivity and Industrial Growth  and Reducing Poverty. Pp 81 – 99, Routledge, London and New York. Previously published in European Journal of Development Research, 19(1). 81 – 89.

Mackintosh, M. & Tibandebage, P. (2006). “Gender and Health Sector Reform: Analytical Perspectives on African Experience”, in Razavi, S. and S. Hassim (eds), Gender and Social Policy in a Global Context: Uncovering the Gendered Structure of the Social,   237-257, Palgrave Macmillan and UNRISD.

Tibandebage P. & Mackintosh, M. (2005). “The Market Shaping of Charges, Trust and Abuse: Health Care Transactions in Tanzania”, Social Science and Medicine, Pp 1385 - 1395.

Mackintosh, M. & Tibandebage, P. (2004). “'Inequality and Redistribution in Health Care: Analytical Issues for Developmental Social Policy” in Mkandawire, T.(ed). Social Policy in a Development Context. Pp. 143 – 174. Palgrave, Basingstoke.

Tibandebage, P. (2004). “Labour Flexibility in Tanzania”, in: Rajendra Paratian and Sukit Dasgupta (eds), Confronting Economic Insecurity in Africa”. Pp 241 – 278.  ILO: ILO Socio-Economic Security Programme.

Tibandebage, P. & Mackintosh, M. (2002). “Institutional Cultures and Regulatory Relationships in a Liberalising Health Care System: A Tanzanian Case Study” in Heyer, J., Stewart, F. and Thorp, R. (eds). Group Behaviour and Development: Is the Market Destroying Cooperation? Pp. 271 – 289. Oxford University Press.

Mackintosh, M. & Tibandebage, P. (2002). “Inclusion by Design? Rethinking Health Care Market Regulation in the Tanzanian Context”. Journal of Development Studies. 39(1)  1-20.

Tibandebage, P.  (1999). “Charging for Health Care in Tanzania: Official Pricing in a Liberalized Environment”. In Mackintosh, M. and Roy, R. (eds). Economic Decentralization and Public Management Reform. Edward Edger.

Tibandebage, P. Wangwe, S. M.,Mujinja, P., Bail, R. & Shepard, D. S. (1998). “Expenditures on HIV/AIDS in Tanzania” in Ainsworth. M., Fransen, L. and Over, M. (eds). Confronting ATDS: Evidence from the Developing World. European Commission, Brussels.

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