Maxine A. Whittaker, MBBS,  MPH , PhD, FAFPHM, GAICD is the Co-Director of the World Health Organisation's Collaborating Centre for Vector Borne Diseases and Neglected Tropical Diseases. In 2017 she was awarded the Royal Australasian College of Physicians International Medal in recognition of outstanding service in developing countries. 

Experience Maxine Whittaker has lived and worked in Bangladesh, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Papua New Guniea and worked extensively in China, Fiji, Indonesia, Kenya, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tanzania, Thailand , Tonga, Vanuatu, and Vietnam.  She has extensive experience in project and programme design in health and development, especially in infectious diseases, One Health, and sexual and reproductive health, gender analysis, and using rapid formative research and anthropological methods and for a variety of international development partner and NGO organizations.  From 2006-2009 she was the Senior Technical Health Adviser to the National Department of Health in Papua New Guinea where she was involved in health and development policy work, technical programme support especially in disease control and family health services, and a member of several national committees to advise the Ministry of Health.

Research Interests Maxine Whittaker research interests are in fields of operational and health services research and medical anthropology, with a primary focus on Oe Health, sexual and reproductive health, health seeking behaviour and quality of care. She has a special interest in the issue of scaling-up pilot programmes into policy and practice, and as a founding member of Expandnet has contributed to a body of work published by WHO on this topic. She is co-chaired the Health Systems panel (http://www.malariaeradication.org/malera-refresh) and is recognized as one of the leaders in re-invigorating social sciences and community participation  in the malaria research agenda. 

Since 2009 has been CI on research and project grants in the Asia Pacific region worth more than $A80 million including several from DFAT published more than 80 peer reviewed publications, and several project documents for development partners and countries, policy briefings, briefing papers, book chapters and commissioned papers.

Present service and leadership roles 

 - Civil Society Representative to the Global Fund Regional Artemisin Initiatives Regional Steering Committee (https://www.malariafreemekong.org/contents/malaria-free-mekong-a-platform-of-communities-and-civil-society-organizations-announces-the-appointment-of-global-fund-rai-rsc-cso-representatvies-amd-alternates) (2021-)

-- Member, Internal Review Panel, Asia Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policies

-Member of the  Technical Reference Group of the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia)(https://indopacifichealthsecurity.dfat.gov.au/) - -

- Member Queensland Government's Biosecurity Ministerial Advisory Council (2019- now) (https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/business-priorities/biosecurity/policy-legislation-regulation/biosecurity-queensland-ministerial-advisory-committee).

- Member of the Public Health Association of Australia 

- Member, Steering Committee CSIRO Strengthening Pandemic Preparedness: Sceicne and technology enabled solutions mission (2021-2022)

- Executive Committee of Australian Network of WHO Collaborating Centres. 

- Member of the Communicable Disease Research Centre Reference Group, Fiji Institute of Pacific Health Research at Fiji National University

Previous positions She was previously Dean of the College of Public Health, Medcial and Veterinary Sciences at James Cook University (2016-2021); and Professor of International and Tropical  Health and Co-Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Health Information Systems, Director of the Health Information Systems Knowledge Hub, Program Director of the Australian Initiative on Control and Elimination of Malaria/Pacific Malaria Initiative Support Centre and co-Secretariat of the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network (2008-2016) .

Previous service and leadership roles She was the Chair of the Board of Trustees (2019), Board of Trustee member ( 2014-2019) and member of the Scientific Advisory Group of icddr,b (https://www.icddrb.org/). 

2003-2022 Chair/Co- Chair/Member of the WHO Research Project Review Panel (RP2) of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research including the WHO Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/about_us/en/)

Other professional activities: 

Temporary adviser to Scientific and Technical Advisory Group, WHO Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research, 15-24 February, 2022

Temporary adviser to World Health Organisation (Western Pacific Region) to 4th meeting Technical Advisory Group on Universal Health Coverage (19-21 August 2020) and 5th Meeting (15-17 November 2021) 

Temporary adviser to World Health Organisation (Western Pacific Region) to Consultation on Reaching the Unreached (27-29 July 2020)

Editorial Board CABI One Health Resources https://www.cabidigitallibrary.org/do/10.5555/cabi-one-health-resources (2022 -)

Section Editor for Health Systems and Social Science of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Associate Editor for Malaria Journal

Associate Editor Public Health Action

Editorial Board Member One Health Bulletin  (Hainan Medical University Press)

Member of the RBM Country and Regional Support Partners Committee

Member of the Australian Anthropological Society

Member of the Society for Applied Anthropology

Member of the Royal Society for Tropcial Medicine and Hygiene

Member of Expandnet

Technical Advisor, International Development, Storyboxes (https://www.thestoryboxes.com/)

Mentor in the ASTMH Committee on Global Health (ACGH) Mentorship Initiative (2019)

Mentor in the Catalyse Mentorship program - advancing women scientists in Aboriginal and Tropical health (Menzies Institute)(2019 and 2021)

Mentor AFPHM (2022-)

Consultant, Fred Hollows Foudnation (NZ) to develop an Eye Health roadmap for Papua New Guinea (2021-2022)

Media Events


The Health Report - Guest profile   

The Health Report: Reducing death in childbirth (Aired: Monday 8 November 2010 8:39AM)

The Global Body Psrt 4: The future of the human race   https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/healthreport/maxine-whittaker/3917878 (Broadcast Mon 14 Jan 2013, 5:30pm)   

The Conversation



Situational  Analysis on health services in northern Australia webinar for CRC  NA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gKjoddtCQc  and related publications  https://crcna.com.au/resources/publications/northern-australia-health-service-delivery-situational-analysis-webinar  and


Open Access (JCU Open Access Week 2019)

Introduction  to One Health https://youtu.be/f2URbp318eg

 Mi aigris long koins bilong em' ('I was attracted to him because of his money'): Polygamy, sexual agency and women in contemporary Papua New Guinea The 2013 Australasian HIV/AIDS and Sexual Health Conference, Recorded on 21-25 October 2013 in Darwin, Australia.  -https://www.sexualhealthvisual.com/Video_by_Agnes_Mek_on_Mi_aigris_long_koins_bilong_em_I_was_attracted_to_him_because_of_his_money_Polygamy_sexual_agency_and_women_in_contemporary_Papua_New_Guinea_1.html#lectures


Released in 2021: One Health: The Theory and Practice of Integrated Health Approaches 2nd edition. October 2020 Edited by Jakob Zinsstag, Esther Schelling, Lisa Crump, Maxine Whittaker, Marcel Tanner and Craig Stephen



  • TM5525: Communicable Disease Control (Level 5; TSV)
  • TM5578: Emerging Public Health Threats: Navigating Systems and Responses (Level 5; TSV)
  • Global health advocacy
  • Co-Chair WHO Research panel for Reproductive program of the Human reproduction program (HRP)
  • Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network
  • capacity building and development
  • Global health policy
  • Medical anthropology
  • Malaria and other infectious diseases
  • One Health
  • Health systems research
  • Operational and implementation research
  • global public health
  • health systems
  • One Health
  • 2016 to 2021 - Dean, College of, James Cook University (Townsville, Australia)
  • 2009 to 2016 - Professor, University of Queensland School of Public Health (Brisbane, Australia)
  • 2009 to 2014 - Director, Australian Centre for International and Tropical Health (Brisbane, Australia)
  • 1994 to 2001 - Senior Lecturer/Lecturer, University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia)
  • 1991 to 1992 - Visiting Fellow, Child Survival Project, Department of Demography and National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, (Canberra)
  • 1989 to 1990 - Operations Research Scientist,, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, (Dhaka, Bangladesh)
  • 1986 to 1988 - Resident Associate,, The Population Council, (Lusaka, Zambia)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2017 - Royal College of Physicians International Medal
  • 1985 - • 1985 Life Member International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA)
  • 1984 - Honorary Life Member, Australian Medical Students Association
  • 2001 - Dr Jerusha Jhirad Oration Award. Presented at the Silver Jubilee Conference of Medical Women International Association (MWIA)
  • 1998 - University of Queensland Short Fellowship

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 97+ research outputs authored by Prof Maxine Whittaker from 1990 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

CRC for Developing Northern Australia Scheme - Projects

Integrating Health Care Planning for Health and Prosperity in North Queensland.

Indicative Funding
$750,000 over 3 years, in partnership with Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre Limited ($330,000)
Improving health and prosperity across Northern Australia is constrained by planning silos and limited creativity in models-of-care. North Queensland (NQ) has a unique opportunity to unite health industry partners and improve efficiencies and effectiveness in service delivery. Building on findings from our Health Situational Analysis we will co-create integrated systems for mapping population need, health services and workforce, prioritising areas for action. This work brings together key public and private health system partners across North Queensland, including Hospital and Health Services, Primary Health Networks and the Community Controlled Health Sector to take a regional approach to strengthening the integration of care and place-based planning of workforce and service implementation in North Queensland. The organizational recognition of the Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre (TAAHC) streamlines these relationships. We will work with all TAAHC partners, plus QAIHC and WQPHN to take a regional approach in NQ, whilst working with expert technical reference group members from NT and WA to ensure shared learning across the north. Then, working closely with service providers and consumers we will facilitate place-based planning and design, implement and evaluate new models-of-care that will optimise health and economic outcomes, consumer and workforce satisfaction.
Sarah Larkins, Stephanie Topp, Alex Edelman, Nishila Moodley, Edward Strivens and Maxine Whittaker (College of Medicine & Dentistry, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service)
place -based planning; Rural Health Services; Health Workforce; integrated care; rural and remote; Health Equity

World Health Organization - Contract Research

Situation analysis and vulnerability and adaptation assessments for all municipalities of Timor Leste including development of climate and health risk profiles of each municipality and publication of scientific papers

Indicative Funding
The objective is to develop the national and subnational vulnerability and adaptation assessments for Timor Leste including the development of Climate and Health risk profiles. These will inform the government on approaches and strategies to reduce the impact of climate change on the health of its people, and contribute towards the body of knowledge of approaches to address climate change and health in small island developing states globally.
Maxine Whittaker, Gueladio Cisse, Oyelola Adegboye and Etienne Kouakou (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, University of Nangui Abrogoa and)
Climate change and health; Adaptation; Timor Leste

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) - ASEAN-Pacific Infectious Disease Detection and Response (APIDDaR) Program

Securing the frontline for health secure communities

Indicative Funding
$795,776 over 3 years (administered by Red Cross Australia)
The aim is to build capacity to detect/respond to infectious disease outbreaks through frontline public health (human and animal) workforce which includes community members, volunteers, community health workers, environmental health workers, biosecurity and environmental officers and primary health care staff. This will be achieved through: Strengthened capability at community/primary care levels to anticipate outbreaks; Improved response at early stages of potential outbreaks; A quality timely and thorough response to outbreaks at the frontline level ; An operational learning and feedback process for continued improvement and currency of detection of and response to infectious diseases outbreaks.
Maxine Whittaker, Lisa Natoli, Allen Ross, Effie Espino, Lars Henning, Sarah Larkins, Sarah-Jane Wilson, Sandra Downing, Tammy Allen, Mahmudur Rahman, Sayera Banu, Nadia Ali Rima, Asharul Islam, Sukanta Chowdhury, Syed Moinuddin Satter and Veronica Bell (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Red Cross Australia, Icddr,b, Research Institute of Tropical Medicine, College of Medicine & Dentistry and Australian Research Centre for Medical Engineering (UWA))
Health security; Infectious Diseases; Surveillance Systems; Community Engagement; One Health; Health workforce development

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • The Engagement and Participation of Faith based Organizations in the Health System Reforms in Soloman Islands (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Improving Digital Health Competencies for Health Service Managers in Australia (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Strengthening community empowerment approaches to Aedes species mosquito management in a high-income country setting: comparative case studies within Queensland, Australia. (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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