By Tara Tancred, Meike Schleiff, David H. Peters, Dina Balabanova, On behalf of The Thematic Working Group on Teaching and Learning Health Policy and Systems Research
The Health Systems Global Thematic Working Group on Teaching and Learning Health Policy and Systems Research is pleased to announce the release of the Global Mapping of Health Policy and Systems Research Training report prepared with support from the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research.
The 2014 study sought to provide a snapshot of current health policy and systems research (HPSR) teaching and training programmes focused on HPSR relevant to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), capturing their diversity and unique characteristics. The findings draw on a survey of individuals involved in the design and/or delivery of HPSR courses and on in-depth interviews elaborating on survey findings. The report aims to promote action to address major gaps and create opportunities for collaboration around expanding HPSR teaching capacity.
The study asked:
- Where are HPSR courses occurring and what audiences do they target?
- What is the content of these HPSR courses, and how are these taught?
- What are the major gaps in training and the reasons behind these gaps?
- What are workable strategies to address these gaps?
We found an acute need for greater geographical representation of HPSR training, especially in Latin America, Eastern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. There was limited language diversity in HPSR courses offered, as 76% of HPSR courses were delivered in English only. There is much to be done in defining a set of key competencies that HPSR training should aim to build, bridging the gaps between disciplines and institutions. Creating methodological expertise beyond what course instructors may have or what particular institutions value might be useful for learners. Finally, as the majority of HPSR courses were found to be offered within a term/semester as part of a master’s degree programme, the need to offer short-courses or more flexible types of training, with more online teaching components to increase accessibility of these courses for hard-to-reach student populations like public health professionals and policy-makers, was seen to be of particular importance.
What next? Developing HPSR teaching materials in languages other than English, supporting research networks to facilitate the exchange of best practices, and establishing a repository of current HPSR courses with opportunities to share materials, where possible, were seen as priorities to expand capacity in HPSR teaching. The Thematic Working Group will be acting on many of these recommendations—in particular, establishing a viable and accessible repository of courses accessible via Health Systems Global is in preparation and to be released soon!