new publication on health policy and systems research
Strengthening Health Systems: The Role and Promise of Policy and Systems Research
Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, Geneva, November 2004, 120 pages, free of charge. ISBN 2-940286-25-6
Copies of the printed publication are available by e-mailing
firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to:
Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research
CH-1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland
The Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, an initiative of the Global Forum for Health Research in collaboration with the World Health Organization, has just published its first biennial review of the emerging field of health policy and systems research. The book is being launched in Mexico at the forthcoming Forum 8 meeting and Ministerial Summit on Health Research (16-20 November 2004).
Rapid progress towards disease control targets in developing countries is greatly hampered by weak, poorly functioning or in some cases non-existent health systems. It is critical to know how best to approach health system strengthening, and what specific actions are appropriate in different settings. Much is known about the barriers or constraints to 'scaling up' health services. However, remarkably little is known about how best to relax these constraints.
The central concern of this book is how knowledge of health systems can be significantly increased and effectively applied to improve the health of the worst-off of the world's population.
The book provides important insights:
Policies and programmes play a critical role in setting the research agenda and in enabling high quality research.
Health systems research can significantly contribute to health policies and programmes.
Lack of research can lead to undesirable results.
Research can contribute most when issues are formulated through clear and empirically verifiable hypotheses.
Health systems research has developed a rich body of knowledge to support evidence-based policy making.
Funding for health systems research in developing countries is at around 0.02% of health expenditure, far too low to ensure impact.
Only 5% of total publications on health systems worldwide focus on developing countries.
Stakeholders support different priorities, while critical problems are not always targeted.
Priorities can be harmonized to advocate for increased funding; successful strategies have been documented.
Getting research to policy and practice can be enhanced through affordable interventions that ensure the payback from research.
Research capacity has to be strengthened across all regions through, among other strategies, problem-oriented stakeholder alliances.
Chris Zielinski, STP AHSPR-RPC/EIP
World Health Organization
CH 1211 Geneva, Switzerland