As more countries strive to expand access to quality health care, there is a growing need for evidence, research, and knowledge on how best to mobilize and organize health systems’ inputs to achieve universal health coverage. Recently, HFG helped to launch Health Systems Global—the first international society focused solely on promoting health systems research.
The concept for Health Systems Global (HSG) grew out of the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research held in Montreux, Switzerland, in 2010. Participants emphasized the need for an international organization fully dedicated to the promotion of health systems research to answer the many questions about how best to strengthen health systems. In particular, health systems research is perceived as a key contributor to the ongoing global dialogue about universal health coverage.
“Universal coverage means quality health care for all delivered in ways that protect users from financial ruin or impoverishment,” said Margaret Chan in a speech at the August release of the World Health Report 2013: Research for universal health coverage.
HSG was launched at the Second Health Systems Research Symposium, held in Beijing in November 2012. HSG acts as a catalyst for researchers, decision-makers, and implementers to conduct and utilize health systems research in order to strengthen health systems, and aims to build the capacity for health systems research in low- and middle-income countries. The organization has more than 1,200 members from all over the world.
The Third Global Symposium on Health Systems Research will be held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 30 September to 3 October 2014. The theme will be the science and practice of people-centered health systems and the call for abstracts has opened.
HSG’s board members met for the first time in February 2013 for an inaugural retreat in London facilitated by the Health Finance and Governance (HFG) Project. During the two-day retreat, the Board initiated planning for the 2014 Symposium in Cape Town, South Africa, clarified internal roles and responsibilities, revised HSG’s Mission and Vision statements, and identified strategic priority areas for the organization—building health systems research communities and advocacy groups, improving health systems research methods, and advancing the skills and competencies of HSG members and their institutions.
“This retreat was an essential step in HSG’s development. With a clear mission and vision, strategic goals firmly in place, and clarified roles and responsibilities, Health Systems Global has taken a major step forward in establishing a solid foundation to support and sustain health systems research,” observes Dr. Ann Lion, Project Director of HFG.
HSG’s 11 board members are internationally recognized in the field of health systems research. They hail from nine countries and represent 10 organizations, including many premier academic institutions. Dr. Irene Agyepong of the University of Ghana School of Public Health chairs the Board and Dr. Sara Bennett, Health Systems Research Lead for HFG and Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, serves as Vice-Chair. For more information, please visit http://www.healthsystemsglobal.org/.