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Melissa Watt

Associate Professor of the Practice, Global Health
Director of Graduate Studies, Duke Global Health Institute
Director of Master of Science in Global Health
Duke Global Health Institute

Trent 329
(919) 613-6126

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Melissa Watt


Dr. Watt's research focuses on understanding and addressing gender-specific health issues in sub-Saharan Africa, with specific attention to HIV, substance use and mental health. In Tanzania, she leads two studies - one on the development and evaluation of mental health treatment for women with obstetric fistula and another aimed at improving access to long-term antiretroviral therapy for pregnant women with HIV. In South Africa, she is engaged in studies on the prevention of fetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD) and HIV care engagement in the context of sexual trauma. Dr. Watt has a Ph.D. in Health Behavior from the University of North Carolina, and an M.A. in Gender and Development from the University of Sussex in the U.K.


Title Number Level Semester Requirements Fulfilled
Gender and Global Health

This course will examine the interconnections among gender, poverty, and health. It will adopt a global perspective on these issues, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries as well as the United States. We will learn that health has more to do with social location than with biology; it is something that is enjoyed by the privileged and struggled for by the socially marginalized. Further, among the most important social determinants of health are gender, race and class, and it is very challenging to disentangle their respective effects. They help shape vulnerability to disease and poor health outcomes. They help explain access to care as well as the consequences of illness and disease. They help account for what we consider to be health problems in the first place. And, they must be addressed if efforts to promote health are to be successful in the long term.

Course Notes:
Was: GLHLTH 112
UG Only SPRING 2017 MINOR: Elective
MAJOR: Focused Study
MAJOR: Foundations - Social Determinants


Recent Publications

RR Lion, MH Watt, WM Wechsberg, CS Meade. (2016, in press) Gender and sex trading among active methamphetamine users in Cape Town, South Africa. Substance Use and Misuse.

MH Watt, AC Dennis, KW Choi, N Ciya, JA Joska, C Robertson, KJ Sikkema. (2016) Impact of sexual trauma on HIV care engagement: Perspectives of female patients with trauma histories in Cape Town, South Africa. AIDS and Behavior. [Epub ahead of print, doi: 10.1007/s10461-016-1617-1

AC Dennis, SM Wilson, MV Mosha, GG Masenga, KJ Sikkema, K Terroso, MH Watt. (2016) Experiences of social support among women presenting for obstetric fistula repair surgery in Tanzania. International Journal of Women’s Health. PMCID: PMC5019876

SM Wilson, KJ Sikkema, MH Watt, GG Masenga, MV Mosha. (2016) Psychological symptoms and social functioning following repair of obstetric fistula in a low-income setting. Maternal and Child Health 20(5): 941-5. PMCID: PMC4826832

MH Watt, KE Guidera, AL Hobkirk, D Skinner, CS Meade. (2016) Intimate partner violence among men and women who use methamphetamine: A mixed-methods study in South Africa. Drug and Alcohol Review. [Epub ahead of print, doi: 10.1111/dar.12420]

CS Meade, RR Lion, DM Cordero, MH Watt, JA Joska, H Gouse, W Burnhams. (2016) HIV risk behavior among methamphetamine users entering substance abuse treatment in Cape Town, South Africa. AIDS and Behavior. 20(10): 2387-97. PMCID: PMC4982836

EV Pitpitan, SC Kalichman, LA Eaton, KJ Sikkema, MH Watt, D Skinner, D Pieterse. (2016) Men’s behavior predicts women’s risk for HIV/AIDS: Multilevel analysis of alcohol-serving venues in South Africa. Prevention Science. 17(4):472-82. PMCID: PMC4840071

H Gouse, JA Joska, RR Lion, MH Watt, W Burnhams, AW Carrico, CS Meade. (2016) HIV testing and sero-prevalence among methamphetamine users seeking substance abuse treatment in Cape Town. Drug and Alcohol Review. 35(5): 580-3. PMCID: PMC4907883

AL Hobkirk, MH Watt, B Myers, D Skinner, CS Meade. (2016) A qualitative study of methamphetamine initiation in Cape Town, South Africa. International Journal of Drug Policy. 30:99-106. PMCID: PMC4829462