Health systems for a better world

It feels more important than ever to enter into dialogue with people working in the same field across national, disciplinary or any other boundary

Health systems for a better world

By Johanna Hanefeld, HSG Board Candidate 2016

Six weeks ago when I decided to stand as a candidate for the board of Health Systems Global, three things motivated me (I go into more detail about these below). Since then, a sequence of events has added much urgency to these.

First, the shootings in an LGBTI club in Orlando, Florida; five days later a British MP was attacked and killed in her constituency, less than a week after that, the UK, the country where I have lived for the best part of the past 18 years and have always admired for its tolerance, voted to leave the European Union (where I am from). This has been followed by attacks in France and in the past week in Germany, where I am from.

The past six weeks have left me shaken, with a real sense of political uncertainty and trepidation about the future but also with a renewed resolve to make a difference and work with others

It feels more important than ever to enter into dialogue with people working in the same field across national, disciplinary or any other boundary. Our field of work is universal: everyone needs health and health systems. We are at our most vulnerable when we come into contact with a health system and also acutely aware of what might set us apart from the “norm”. Universal access to health systems regardless of citizenship, nationality, sexual identity, gender, social status, ethnicity or religion are important and so is the work that HSG seeks to advance. That’s why I want to stand for the board of HSG.

So back to my three original reasons for standing:

1) I feel we are really coming together as a community of health policy and health systems’ scholars and there is more to be done. There is exciting thinking and research but many unanswered questions. These relate particularly to questions of governance, how systems cope with shocks and how human relations define and impact on different aspects of the system. Understanding power and power relations are an important aspect of this type of research. In short – it’s an exciting time for the field of HPSR and I think the role and work of HSG to advance it are critical in advancing exchange on these questions, beyond the symposium.

2) As the field advances and gains in attention by funders and policy makers this poses several concrete challenges to an organisation such as HSG and more broadly to the field of HPSR. We have discussed many of these of the past days in relation to the new strategy. For example, I feel to really build on the momentum and opportunity that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the target of universal health coverage provide, we need to more actively foster and engage with broader audiences, whether we call them partners or activists,  to grow the society while keeping its integrity will be important.

3) I am part of a group of HPSR researchers in the UK who will be hosting and convening the next Symposium in 2018. Having been involved in some of the work relating to the 2014 and 2016 symposia I had thought this would be a good time to take a more proactive role. Building on the role I had as part of the SHAPES technical working group of HSG, which I really enjoyed and hope have helped a little. It has also given me insights into some of the opportunities we can grow further in terms of working together.

In sum – I think it’s an exciting time for HSG, and as a member of the Society whether on the board or not – I hope I can contribute to the important work in the years ahead as part of the community of health systems scholars and activists around the globe.

You can read more about my research.

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