Doctor Elissa Kennedy

Co-Program Director, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health; Co-Head Global Adolescent Health


Elissa is a medical doctor with a Master of Public Health specialising in international health (Monash University). She has more than a decade’s experience in global public health, with particular expertise in adolescent sexual and reproductive health research, policy, and programming in low- and middle-income countries.

Elissa has led and contributed to research examining adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health needs in various settings, including China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu. She has also conducted intervention studies and evaluations of programs aiming to improve adolescents’ access to sexual and reproductive health information and services. Her recent work has focused on prevention of early and unintended pregnancy, menstrual hygiene management, understanding gender inequality and its impacts on adolescents, and strengthening adolescent-responsive health systems.

She was a collaborator and co-author of the Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing published in 2016, most notably contributing to the analysis of global burden of disease data to identify priority health needs of 10 to 24-year-olds globally. Elissa also provides technical support to adolescent and maternal and child health policy and development projects in Asia, the Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa.

Prior to joining Burnet in 2009, Elissa worked in sub-Saharan Africa as a clinician and health advisor, contributing to primary health care programs related to women’s and children’s health, HIV prevention and care, and sexual and reproductive health. In addition to work focused on adolescent health, Elissa also contributes to postgraduate teaching in women’s and children’s health, adolescent health, and primary health care. She was coordinator of the Centre for International Health’s education and training program from 2013-2016.


  • Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University
  • Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Honorary Fellow


  • 2017: Co-Program Director, Maternal and Child Health; Co-Head Global Adolescent Health, Burnet Institute


  • 2009: MPH, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
  • 2003: MBBS (Hons), Monash University, Victoria, Australia

Projects (32)

Current (21)

  • Developing vaccines against malaria

  • Development of a point-of-care test for neonatal sepsis

  • Discovering the mechanisms and targets of immunity against malaria

  • Engaging private sector for adolescent health service delivery in Asia and Pacific

  • Gender Counts

  • Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies

  • HMHB - Health Services for Postnatal and Infancy Care

  • HMHB: The impact of nutrition, malaria and STIs on pregnant women and infants

  • Implementing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services in East Asia and the Pacific Region

  • Improved point-of-care test to eliminate congenital syphilis

  • Inequalities in sexual and reproductive health in Asia and the Pacific

  • Integrated Multi-Sectoral Approach (IMSA) To Improve The Sexual And Reproductive Health Of Adolescents In Magway, Myanmar

  • Integrating Mental Health and Psychosocial Support into primary health care for Children and Adolescents in Middle East and North Africa

  • Non-communicable diseases in adolescents in Indonesia

  • Quantifying early marriage and union in Southeast Asia

  • Resilient Adolescents and Integrated Life Skills (RAIL) project, Dawei, Myanmar

  • Review of the health and wellbeing of adolescents and young people in the Middle East and North Africa

  • Sexual and reproductive health in Asia and the Pacific

  • The Adolescent Menstrual Experiences and Health Cohort (AMEHC) Study in Bangladesh

  • Understanding Pathways to Adolescent Pregnancy in Southeast Asia

  • Vaccines against Plasmodium vivax and P. falciparum malaria

Past (1)

  • Addressing adolescent sexual and reproductive health in the Pacific

Publications (38)

2023 (1)

2022 (1)

2021 (6)

2020 (3)

2019 (1)

2018 (3)

2016 (3)

2015 (3)

2014 (2)

2013 (6)

2012 (3)

2011 (4)

2010 (2)

News Articles (24)

2022 (2)

2021 (1)

2020 (2)

2019 (4)

2018 (2)

2017 (5)

2016 (4)

2014 (2)

2012 (2)