By Dr Reem Gaafar, Non-Resident Fellow, MBRSG and Dr Immanuel Azaad Moonesar R.D. Associate Professor of Health Administration and Policy, MBRSG
After years of preparation, the Sixth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research (HSR2020) finally arrived this November with a strong promise of being well worth the wait. Having had to move online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual experience is proving to be nothing less than spectacular. The rich and diverse content, high quality research papers and presentations, impressive choice of participants from literally every corner of the globe, and the seamless virtual platform show just how much time and effort has gone into it.
The symposium aims to discuss how health systems can be reimagined for better health and social justice – a theme that weaves through the different topics discussed. Based on this overarching aim, a number of themes and sub-themes guide the presentations, plenaries and contributions.
Plenary 1 discussed holding power to account as part of the first sub-theme: engaging political forces, with experts discussing transparency, accountability, the role of the private sector and maintaining human rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. The importance of building collaborative partnerships, community mobilization and engagement, transparency of processes, strengthening capacity, a heightened sensitivity to corruption, and empowering the media could not be overemphasized.
Plenary 2 addressed the sub-theme: engaging social, economic and environmental forces, and discussed responding to population mobility, conflict and climate change. In this session, panelists explored health systems maintenance during conflict and the unique difficulties they face on a number of levels, as well as health systems research in the context of migration and the different determinants and considerations that need to be taken into account. Projections of the impact of climate change on health systems were described and showed its role in increasing the burden of disease, and how mitigation policies can be implemented today to reduce hospital admissions and deaths in the future. And a presentation about the inequalities of hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 in Brazil showed how intra-urban differences in rates followed socioeconomic lines.
Plenary 3 was like a window into the future, as the sub-theme: engaging technological, data and social innovations was explored through a display of deep learning, artificial intelligence, mobile phone technology and the challenges facing all of this in the context of health systems. Issues such as data-driven biases, ethical and privacy issues, and the strong need for regulatory frameworks were discussed. The role of this technology in low-income countries with weak governance systems and the need for strong localized data to inform logarithms was highlighted. Panelists also touched on the issues of fairness and equality, as well as cost-effectiveness. And overall, it was agreed that the advancements in digital health technologies cannot replace the human bond.
Reimagine health systems: future scenarios for better health and social justice
During Phase One of HSR2020, Health Systems Global launched its new initiative Reimagine Health Systems: Future Scenarios for Better Health and Social Justice as a future scenario building initiative through which HSG seeks to identify the changes that will impact health systems, now and in the future, as well as what is needed to navigate and address these challenges. The aim of this initiative is to shape future health systems scenarios, inform and support essential transformations in health systems across the world, provide valuable insights to help people shaping health systems understand and respond to current and emerging health systems challenges and opportunities.
The initiative will run in parallel with the three phases of HSR2020, and, like HSR2020, will conclude during Phase Three in March 2021. It also draws upon the three sub-themes of HSR2020 to frame its exploration of the changes, impacts, and solutions facing health systems.
HSR2020 Phase One in November 2020 marked the launch of the first stage of the initiative, asking people for their perspectives and ideas on what are the critical changes and impacts confronting health systems where they live and work.
The deadline for stage one contributions is 10 December, so make sure you share your views now!