By Shinjini Mondal & KEYSTONE Team
Next week, the Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR) community in India is taking a major leap forward with the start of its first ‘KEYSTONE’ course. KEYSTONE is a nationwide HPSR capacity building initiative, coordinated and convened by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) as a Nodal Institute of the WHO Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (AHPSR) in India. The initiative is a being organized in partnership with leading Indian and international HPSR institutions. The two-week course (23 February-6 March) which kicks off the Keystone initiative, seeks to address the gaps in the Indian HPSR community as highlighted in an earlier KEYSTONE related blog. The programme aims to develop individual capacities and channel latent capacities of participants, for investigating and addressing real-world problems of health systems and policy, through rigorous immersion in current HPSR methodologies, cross disciplinary approaches and frameworks.
The inaugural course has generated quite a stir and enthusiasm among the HPSR community. Organisers received 77 applications from across disciplines (public health, medicine, geography, and anthropology), sectors (academic, NGO, government health service) and geographical regions (eastern, western, northern and southern regions of India). The applications were reviewed by a group of 21 national and international experts in HPSR. The final selection decisions were taken by a core committee that also considered regions, constituencies, gender and how likely the candidate was to make good use of the course.
The Keystone faculty and facilitators are excited to facilitate the course for this diverse group of participants, which brings together government health services representatives from the national and district levels, activists from prominent NGOs, PhD students, committed academics and practicing senior medical doctors. The course will introduce participants to different lenses to look at health system problems, such as economics, policy analysis, ethnography, theory driven inquiry, and participatory action research. So the participants will be asked to move out of their comfort zones and to consider these various lenses as not incongruous but rather as different ways and perspectives to look at similar problems. The course will emphasize the relevance of training and research for people involved in health system change. The ultimate goal of KEYSTONE is to activate a community of Indian HPSR researchers capable of addressing the critical needs of the health system.
The long wait for the course is now finally coming to an end with some frantic greenroom preparation still going on. The first introductory video for the course has already been launched. Faculty and facilitators are set to perform, and instead of applause at the end of their show they are hoping for curious questions and exciting debates throughout. So it’s a house full of positive radiant energy and enthusiasm in Delhi, as we are getting ready to take the first step in developing and expanding the Indian HPSR community to shape and strengthen the future of Indian health systems.