This call for papers is jointly organised by the journal Health Policy and Planning, and the organizer of the Sixth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research – Health Systems Global. Accepted papers will be published as a special journal supplement of the Sixth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, which will take place in three phases. The first phase will run online from 8th-12th November 2020 and the second phase will feature two rounds of parallel sessions every two weeks online from the end of November through to March 2021. The third phase will be a culminating event in March 2021. The theme for the call is “Re-imagining health systems for better health and social justice” which is also the theme of the Symposium.
Re-imagining health systems for better health and social justice
Ten years on from the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, health systems around the world are still far from achieving the Sustainable Development Goal to “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”. Many health systems are structured around the provision of curative health services, and have paid insufficient attention to the need to promote and protect health. Health systems are often also ill-equipped to deal with major demographic changes (including urbanization and migration), as well as the increasing effects of climate change, and growing number of conflicts. Covid-19 has cast light on health system weaknesses across the world, and laid bare historic under-investments in health protection.
The Sixth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research (HSR2020) will seek to break old silos and re-orient health systems to address public health and engage the political, social, and environmental forces that perpetuate health inequities and social injustices. It will explore how technological, data and social innovations can address these challenges, and how health systems research can support essential transformations in health systems.
This supplement will have a focus on the Symposium’s overarching theme “Re-imagining health systems for better health and social justice”, including three sub-themes on “Engaging political forces”; “Engaging social, economic and environmental forces”; and “Engaging technological, data and social innovations”. Only papers accepted to HSR2020 will be considered.
Papers speaking to each of the conference sub themes summarised below will be welcomed for this special supplement. We particularly welcome papers that not only analyse problems, but seek to provide solutions and insights into a path forward that improves both health and social justice. Papers that address Covid-19 and its connection to the conference sub-themes will also be well received.
- Engaging political forces: Power and politics affect all actors and dimensions of health systems, influencing policy prioritization, resource distribution, accessibility and affordability of care, quality of services, gender equality and other forms of marginalization, as well as research institutions themselves. Corruption further increases inequality, impoverishes populations, and slows progress towards achieving Universal Health Coverage, particularly among the most vulnerable people. Faced with the spread of polarizing ideologies, tighter borders, growing health disparities, and unregulated commercial interests, analyzing and addressing power, politics and corruption in health systems is critical to tackling the underlying causes of health inequities. We must create the conditions to promote accountability and enable stronger social voice to challenge existing power relations and address corruption. Examples of the types of questions that papers within this theme may address include:
- How does corruption and conflict of interest shape health and health systems, and what can be done to address these pernicious influences?
- How can health systems strengthen social accountability and promote participation by the most marginalized in ways that are sustainable and scalable?
- How can government stewardship of health and health systems be strengthened, including promoting trust in government and evidence-informed decision-making?
- Engaging social, economic and environmental forces: Leaving no one behind requires that health systems engage with the social, economic and environmental forces that shape who has the resources to be healthy, including access to health services and the quality of these services. While the need to act on these broader forces is increasingly recognized as essential to reduce health disparities and promote health equity across the population, the challenges associated with migration, state fragility, conflict, urbanization and climate change remain largely overlooked by the health system community. Examples of the types of questions that papers within this theme may address include:
- How can we re-focus health systems on some of the upstream social determinants of health?
- How can we strengthen the resilence of health systems in the face of climate change, urbanization and conflict?
- How can health systems better accommodate highly mobile populations, whether this is through forced, reluctant or voluntary migration?
- Engaging technological, data and social innovations: The rapid emergence of new technology, artificial intelligence and big data brings new opportunities and challenges to combat the growing burden of complex chronic disease and health inequity. Despite the profound changes taking place, healthcare delivery models have changed little in the last 50 years. Leveraging innovations can enable health systems to make rapid progress in expanding access to quality and affordable care by redefining how people, systems and information interact. Innovations may be technological, data-driven or social, encompassing new products, services, models or markets – ultimately seeking to identify new and more effective ways of solving problems that are scalable. We will both explore specific health system innovations, and consider the innovation environment, including the regulatory and policy environment needed to promote equity and ensure that innovations benefit the most vulnerable. Examples of the types of questions that papers within this theme may address include:
- What kind of contributions can technological innovations and artificial intelligence make to pro-poor health systems of the future?
- How can health systems best govern technology and support innovation so as to ensure that new innovations are ethical and support equity?
- What are the most promising innovations in service delivery and health financing that will shape future health systems?
The supplement will have a maximum of 15 articles that cover the main conference sub themes (i.e. approximately 3-5 papers per sub theme). All papers will be subject to peer review.
It is our aim that at minimum 60-65% of accepted papers will come from a low- and/or middle-income country author, listed as first author on the paper.
Full manuscripts should be submitted to Health Policy and Planning by 30 November 2020 through the submission link on the journal website. During the submission process please note your paper is to be considered as part of this special issue.
Original research articles as well as review papers are invited. Papers that receive positive reviews but are not deemed suitable for this supplement may be considered for individual publication in Health Policy and Planning.
The Sixth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research will build on the progress achieved by five previous, highly successful symposia in convening health systems researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners from around the world.
The supplement is funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of IDRC.