|Health Systems Global|
Dr Kabir Sheikh, Senior Research Scientist at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), was elected recently as Vice Chair of the board of Health Systems Global, an international membership organization dedicated to promoting health systems research and knowledge translation.
Health Systems Global
Health Systems Global (www.healthsystemsglobal.org) is the first of its kind – an international membership organization established to catalyse health systems research (HSR) and convene researchers, decision-makers and implementers, to support the creation of new knowledge and the application of that knowledge in real world settings. An emerging discipline globally, HSR is the study of the structures, functions and performance of health systems and of how they operate in specific social and policy contexts. HSR has been characterized as a crucial element of countries’ health systems strengthening efforts, and as a compass on the path towards universal health coverage.
Health Systems Global is steered by a board of 11 elected members from different regions of the world as well as non region-specific representation from leaders in the HSR field. The current Chair of the board is Dr Sara Bennett of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, USA.
Health Systems Global organizes a Global Symposium of Health Systems Research every two years. These symposia serve to share new state-of-the-art evidence; review progress and challenges in implementing priority research; discuss ways to strengthen the scientific rigour of HSR, and facilitate collaborations and learning communities. Participants include researchers, policy-makers, funders, implementers, civil society and other stakeholders. The most recent Global Symposium was held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 30 Sep – 3 Oct 2014, with the theme: “Science and practice of people-centred health systems”.
Health Systems Global also convenes 9 thematic working groups that provide a platform for member interaction and exchange of experiences around particular issues in HSR.
PHFI’s role in advancing Health Systems Research
PHFI has been actively engaged in promoting the cause of HSR in India and globally, in its capacity as the Nodal Institute of the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, WHO. One major initiative of the Nodal Institute has been to launch KEYSTONE, a national HSR training initiative to develop new capacities, and channelize latent capacities in multiple disciplines, towards addressing critical needs of health systems and policy development in India. A national-level meeting was conducted in July 2014, to plan KEYSTONE as a collective endeavour of several Indian research organizations, convened by the Nodal Institute.
The Nodal Institute also recently organized a major national-level seminar: “The Future of Health Policy & Systems Research in India”: This seminar featured keynotes by India’s top health administrators, and panel discussions in which global HSR leaders explored state-of-the-art developments in HSR, and its role in strengthening India's health systems and advancing towards universal health coverage. (Videos: www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLI_PWXNhdaCjc4QSEtWmoKdQnLlBJJvRV)
Most notably, the Nodal Institute is currently in consultation with policymakers to create a systematic, transparent, indigenous institutional mechanism to support HSR and facilitate the uptake of HSR in the country.
Indian representation in Health Systems Global
Indian researchers are global thought leaders in the HSR field and also in the context of several HSR themes including health care financing, health care regulation, human resources for health, access to medicines, community participation for health, and decentralized health governance.
Dr Kabir Sheikh on the significance of global exchanges and collaborations in HSR:
“Many key health systems concepts have been nourished by dialogue between researchers, civil society and decision-makers in countries, and then tested and sharpened through cross-learning on global platforms. These exchanges also keep the global discussions grounded by constantly reinforcing bottom-up thinking and focusing on people’s experiences on the frontlines. Exchanges between different countries that have comparable experiences and contexts are particularly important. Health Systems Global will work to encourage south-south interactions, as well as support south-north engagements for HSR capacity and field-building. There’s a special place for the HSR community in bringing about improvements in health systems worldwide, and Health Systems Global can catalyse this.”