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SPPH researchers co-author chapter in first WHO World Report on Health Policy

May 30, 2017 |

School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) researchers have co-authored a chapter in the first World Health Organization (WHO) World Report on Health Policy and Systems Research.

Released in April, the report looks at how the health policy and systems research field has evolved, and provides insight into how the approach used in this field can help countries advance the Sustainable Development Goal agenda, a WHO release said.

“Health systems and policy research looks at the whole web of processes that make the health system work.”
Co-author Krista English

Associate Professor Babak Pourbohloul and senior research scientist Krista English of the Complexity Science Lab, housed within SPPH, co-authored ‘Benchmarks’, the second chapter of the report. Their work included a bibliometric analysis, looking at publications on health policy and systems research around the world over 25 years, the first time such a scope had been undertaken, Ms English said.

In particular, the work looked at how lower and middle income countries (LMIC) had been impacted, and their researchers’ participation, she said. The report found a five-fold increase in the number of health policy and systems research publications produced each year from 1990 to 2015 and a 10-fold increase in participation by authors from LMIC.

“Health policy and systems research is meant to support some of the most vulnerable countries and populations.”
Co-author Krista English

Participation from authors in LMIC had increased in this field over the past 10 to 12 years, Ms English said, a measure of how health policy and systems research is supporting these vulnerable countries. In turn, LMIC participating would affect change towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The report would help set funding goals for policy makers around the world, she said, and was a broad overview to be used by anyone in the member states to understand where funding was going, and where some of these resources could be redistributed to support particularly vulnerable populations.

Babak Pourbohloul

Associate Professor Babak Pourbohloul

Dr. Pourbohloul said dedicating the report to health policy and systems research was a recognition of a paradigm shift, where there was an increased recognition of the intrinsic ‘systems’ nature of health systems, to view pressing challenges in global and national health discourse through a systems lens, and to incorporate and integrate systems thinking in health policy design and decision-making in low-, middle-, and high-income countries.

“Health systems concern all organizations, people, programs, and their intricate inter-relationships, whose primary goal is to maintain and improve the health of populations.”
Associate Professor Babak Pourbohloul

The work also included a network analysis to understand North-South hemisphere and South-South hemisphere collaborations on health policy and systems research, in order to ensure that those meant to benefit from the research were participating in the process, Ms English said. This analysis found that high income countries were well-represented and low income countries’ participation was increasing at a higher rate than any other group.

“They’re on the right track but more definitely needs to be done.”
Co-author Krista English

Those interested in speaking with Dr English about this work can email her here.

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