Health Systems Global

In 2010, health systems researchers, policy makers and practitioners recognised the need to work together to promote and support research to enhance health policy and systems to accelerate universal health coverage. Health Systems Global (HSG) was founded to take forward this agenda by bringing together diverse stakeholders, and promoting health systems research and knowledge translation. This timeline maps the emergence of HSG, placing it within major global moments for health policy and systems research, and points to its future direction and priorities.

2015: expansion and strengthening of organisational model

2015 marked a transition to better legal foundations, increased resources and engagement for HSG. The secretariat moved from the Center for Health and Infectious Disease Research at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark to the Curatio International Foundation, based in Tiblisi, Georgia. The secretariat works to showcase the activities of the thematic working groups, continue to set the agenda for upcoming health systems research symposia, increase and broaden HSG’s membership base and reach, including by attracting members from under-represented regions, and strengthen engagement with policy makers and practitioners for stronger impact.

Liverpool Symposium: looking to the future

Stakeholders from across the field of health systems research, policy and practice will convene for the Fifth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Liverpool, UK, in October, 2018.

Vancouver Symposium: building resilient and responsive health systems

Participants from over 100 countries are expected to engage in discussion and debate on building resilient and responsive health systems at the Fourth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research to be held in Vancouver, Canada, from November 14-18, 2016. With health systems facing multiple challenges, new research into health policy and systems needs to understand and confront these converging priorities. Participants will share knowledge and evidence on diverse themes, including, enhancing health systems resilience; equity, rights, gender and ethics; engaging power and politics in promoting health and public value; innovation in health services and systems; and new partnerships and collaborations for health system research and development.

HSG beyond 2015: a strategy for the next phase

Looking beyond its inception phase, HSG’s new 2016-2020 strategic plan consolidates and intensifies the organisation’s activities. Amidst a changing development and funding landscape, there is greater emphasis on interdisciplinary health policy and systems research. There is also a need for more locally produced research relevant to the country context, and equity in health systems. As such, the new strategic plan aims to advance health policy and systems research, and connect and engage policy and practice communities to further strengthen health systems.

The path to universal health coverage: need for new research

The 2010 World Health Report, ‘Health systems financing: the path to universal coverage’, outlined how countries can strengthen their financing systems to move towards universal health coverage and sustain those achievements. Building on new research and lessons learnt from country experiences, the report presented an action agenda, and triggered discussion on the need for greater research on health systems.

First Global Strategy on Health Policy and Systems Research

In November 2012 at the Second Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Beijing, the World Health Organization launched the first ever Global Strategy on Health Policy and Systems Research, which advocated for greater generation and use of scientific evidence in health policy and systems. Building on the recommendations of the Montreux Symposium, it also laid solid foundations for the establishment of an international body dedicated to the critical area of research.

Beijing Symposium: launch of Health Systems Global

Marking a significant milestone, Health Systems Global (HSG), founded in October 2012, held its first board and annual general meeting at the Second Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Beijing, China, from October 31 to November 3, 2012. At its inception, HSG consisted of 1,400 members and an elected 11-member board. Bringing together researchers, policy makers and practitioners from the field of health systems, HSG aims to facilitate the creation of new knowledge on health systems, while bridging knowledge creation with practical application, for more just and equitable health systems.

HSG 2013-2015: delivering the strategy

The HSG Strategic Plan 2013-2015 detailed the organisational structure, strategic priorities, and the monitoring and evaluation framework. Four strategic objectives were identified: 1) build health systems research communities that encompass policy makers, researchers, NGOs and funders; 2) advance the field of health systems research through further development of health systems research methods, and of the skills and competencies of HSG members; 3) mobilise and support relevant communities to engage in and advocate for health systems research; and 4) ensure that HSG is strong and sustainable.

Montreux Symposium: consensus on health systems research

The First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Montreux, Switzerland, in November 2010, emphasised the need to improve health systems research and scientific evidence to accelerate universal health coverage. Significantly, symposium participants from over 100 countries identified the lack of a central body or network for health systems research, reaching consensus on creating an international body to promote health systems research, knowledge, innovation, and action.

Shaping identity: establishing thematic working groups

Thematic working groups (TWGs) were established as part of HSG’s strategic plan 2013-2015, forming a core element of the organisational model and operations. Their objectives range from developing capacity for health systems research to promoting and sharing research findings. TWGs consist of diverse groupings of current and potential HSG members from different geographic areas and constituencies.

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