Public Lecture on the Future of Health Systems and Policy Research and the role of Health Economics in the health systems discourse.

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SPEED Project, in collaboration with Uganda Health Economics Association (UHEA) and Makerere University School of Public Health recently organised a grand public lecture on the Future of Health Systems and Policy Research and the role of Health Economics in the health systems discourse.

The lecture was held at Makerere University College of Health Science s’ Davis Lecture Theatre.

In his welcoming remarks, Prof Freddie Ssengooba informed members that the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) formed a partnership with the Medical Research Council/ Uganda Virus Research Institute (MRC/UVRI). He noted that senior leaders of LSHTM had visited to establish how they can collaborate further with Uganda.

The lecture was held in cognate of the developments in the field of Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR) that have been experienced over the last couple of decades. The overall objective of the lecture was to reflect on the future of health policy and systems research and see how it will stay relevant amidst a diverse range of other disciplines- such as health economics.

The lecture was given by two professors from LSHTM- Prof. Anne Mills and Prof. Kara Hanson. Prof. Anne Mills is a known researcher who has researched and published widely in the fields of health economics and health systems in low and middle-income countries. Prof. Kara Hanson, on the other hand, is a Professor of Health System Economics and Associate Dean for Research, Faculty of Public Health and Policy at LSHTM, UK. Done work on the economics of health systems in low- and middle-income countries with much interest in the role of the private sector in health systems, and in identifying the opportunities and limitations of the private sector in improving the efficiency, quality and responsiveness of health systems.

Prior to the public lecture, the team paid a curtsey visit to the Dean – Makerere University School of Public Health– Prof Rhoda Wanyenze.  Prof. Wanyenze expressed her appreciation to the LSHTM team for choosing to work with the school. She noted that since the School is exploring the opportunity of running a programme in Health Economics in the near future, the meeting with LSHTM team was relevant.

Prof Freddie Ssengooba giving welcoming remarks at the Public Lecture

Prof. Anne Mills in her presentation expressed appreciation for the invitation to work with Makerere where the two institutions can build everlasting collaboration in research and Health Economics.

Regarding the subject of Health Policy and systems, she mentioned that over the years there has been a lot of confusion between health systems and health services research in a number of countries. This forced them to start a masters in health services/systems research. After some years, health systems research has started being recognised especially by Funders.

On future direction of Health systems research, she described three boundaries related to this area ie geographical boundary, disciplinary boundary and types of research and audiences.

Under the geographical boundary, she mentioned that health system research should not be left to only develop or developing countries alone. But rather since countries are at different stages of development, have different income levels, health systems etc, health systems research needs to address all such. “Huge different between countries affect implementation and undertaking of health system research”. Prof Anne emphasised.

Prof. Anne Mills’ detailed public lecture can be found on this link

On the disciplinary boundary, she noted, health systems is a subject area, not a discipline its self but a number of disciplines can contribute to it. There is a need for scholars and policy implementers to recognise that there is a range of research within health systems research.

Types of Research and Audience. It’s important to recognise that there is an array of researches i.e., academic research with long pay off and operational research with the short-run payoff and would be highly country oriented. On audiences, there are global audiences- WHO goals, UN goals etc, local and national agendas. Policymaker operates on certain constraints.

Funding and Funders; we need a mix of commissioned and investigative driven research to respond to health needs. Recognise different funders with different motivations knowing that at some times funder like to connect/ work with individuals forgetting that such individuals work within institutions.

Prof. Kara Hanson while presenting on the role of Health Economics in the health systems discourse noted that health system research is a topic but not a discipline.  She linked different units taught within health economics and how they contribute to health system research

In summary, the following key messages were noted from the public lecture:

  • The conduct of health systems research must appreciate inter-disciplinarity. All fields must come together to advance the health systems research agenda
  • Increasingly, working in  consortia to conduct health systems research not only increases the opportunity to attract funding but also to effectively implement research programmes
  • Health systems research agenda is shaped by different factors and the global south should play an active role in shaping these agenda.
  • Long-term and sustainable collaborations and partnerships require capacity development

 

The public lecture attracted more than 120 people ranging from health system experts from various institutions of learning, ministries, civil society to health practitioners.

 

LHSTM team meeting the Dean, Makerere University School of Public Health (Prof Rhoda Wanyenze)

Prof. Anne Mills receiving a UHC book written by SPEED project

On this same day, LHSTM team met health economists from various institutions (Economic Policy Research Centre), Makerere School of Economics, World Health Organisation, Ndejje University, Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), MakSPH, St. Augustine University and MRC/UVRI/LSHTM to discuss health economics capacity building and research, and areas of inter-institutional collaboration.

Team of Health Economists in Uganda, meeting the LSTM to discuss areas of collaboration

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