By Dorcus Kiwanuka Henriksson, HSG Board Candidate 2016
The global landscape for health systems has changed significantly with the increased prominence of health systems research and the increasing number of local, regional and global players in Health Systems and Policy Research (HSPR) that can in part be attributed to the increasing prominence and work of Health Systems Global (HSG).
HSG speaks a clear message on the importance of health policy and systems research and how it can contribute to universal health coverage around the world, which has been emphasized through the very successful global symposia in Montreux 2010, Beijing 2012, and Cape Town 2014, and through building capacity through the Thematic Working Groups (TWGs). The success of the Emerging Voices for Global Health (EV4GH), Social Science Approaches for Research and Engagement in Health Policy and Systems (SHAPES) groups has highlighted the interest in and demand for forums in which to discuss and share ideas about the current issues surroundings health systems and policy, and for the organization to build networks and partnerships in a growing field of research.
Health Systems Global (HSG) is very uniquely placed in the changing landscape of health systems because it is a global organization with a diverse membership of researchers, policy makers, advocates, and practitioners. It is, therefore, important to use this position and diversity in order to achieve the vision of supporting health systems to attain better health, equity, and wellbeing by strengthening health policy and systems research, policy and practice communities.
As HSG moves forward with a new strategic plan 2016-2020, it needs to harness its strengthens through its global presence, reach out and appeal to more groups of people, such as the young and emerging researchers who have the potential to be change agents and positively contribute to HSPR, or the subnational and regional practitioners and managers who work within the health systems and, in many cases, are the implementers of the policies that result from HSPR. HSG must also streamline the activities of the TWGs by establishing clear communication and enhanced coordination and cooperation between them.
As the co-chair of the governance committee for the EV4GH network, I am working to enhance broader membership and represent the views of emerging young researchers. EV4GH is a growing network of over 150 young researchers and policy makers from around the world, especially from low and middle income countries (LMIC), which strives to enable representation and raise the voices of young researchers and policy makers within health systems at the global level. This year, the 5th Emerging Voices venture will take place in Vancouver, linked to the HSR symposium. I am well positioned to build on the ongoing activities of HSG for young and emerging researchers through the EV4GH network. The network provides them with the skills and platform to interact with health systems and players at a global level and hopefully become change agents within their respective communities for health systems. I will work towards maintaining and building on the momentum created by such capacity building activities, such as exploring the strategy of creating a regional presence or “HSG regional chapters”. This could be by partnering with existing institutions or organizations that already working within health systems, in order to ensure that the abilities of individual HSG members are continuously applied to achieving sustainable strengthening of the health systems.
Having lead a district health system in Uganda, I strongly believe that the HSG strategic plan for 2016-2020 should reach out and broaden membership of sub national or regional practitioners and managers who work within the health systems. This is one of the areas I will contribute to if elected as a board member, that could broaden the platform to advocate for health systems strengthening and provide an opportunity for cross learning and dialogue between the policy makers, researchers, and the implementers.
Streamlining the activities of the TWGs through establishing communication and coordination mechanisms is one of the areas that could strengthen HSG moving forward, and is an area that I would focus on as a board member. This will allow the TWGs to capitalize on each other’s strengthens, building on the synergies to fortify HSG’s mandate to strengthen health systems globally. This could be achieved if HSG capitalizes on its role as a global organization with diverse membership, and enhance the opportunities already created by the TWGs.
I can make a positive contribution to the HSG board and will work hard to strategically expand HSG membership and TWG opportunities in order to create the best possible opportunities for HSG and its members.