Sapna Desai

Associate II

New Delhi, India

Sapna Desai is an associate based in New Delhi, where her work focuses on women’s health and well-being in India, particularly community-based interventions, health systems, and sexual and reproductive health. Desai co-leads the global Evidence Consortium on Women’s Groups as well as the Council’s internal initiative on infertility. She currently works on a theory and practice-based examination of how women’s groups improve health outcomes in India as well as evidence syntheses and analyses on women’s health and use of health services through the life cycle. She collaborates on multidisciplinary teams for each of her projects and leads partnerships with academic, government, and civil society partners. Desai also has a longstanding interest in improving the health-system response to gynecological morbidity, an area that she continues to pursue with partners in India.

Prior to joining the Population Council, Desai spent 10 years implementing, scaling-up, and evaluating programs with women’s groups and community health workers in several states of India with the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). She led a national healthworker team that implemented community health and health insurance programs, integrated with microfinance and livelihoods in both rural and urban areas, as well as an evaluation of the impact of group-based health education on women’s health. She has been affiliated with the global journal Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters for 10 years, currently as a trustee and co-editor of a special issue on South Asia. She is a commissioner on the Lancet Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System and member of the India Task Force of the Lancet Commission on COVID-19.

Desai holds a PhD in epidemiology and population health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, an MS in population and international health from Harvard University, and AB in international relations from Brown University.