Listening to your views to guide your society

As a membership society, it is important that members’ interests and views are heard and taken onboard

Listening to your views to guide your society

By Dr. George Gotsadze, Executive Director of Health Systems Global

Dear HSG Members,

As a membership society, it is important that members’ interests and views are heard and taken onboard, to ensure that Health Systems Global (HSG) is a society that you want to be a member of and play an active part in.

During June 2017, we carried out a survey of members to ask you for your views on your society. We greatly appreciate the time and effort of the 558 people from around the world, and who represent a range of different professions, who kindly gave their thoughts.

In this blog, I would like to share what we have learnt from your feedback and ask for your support to take forward a series of actions that will help HSG achieve the objectives set out in our society’s five year Strategic Plan (2016-2020).

Disseminating new and emerging knowledge from health policy and systems research (HPSR)featured prominently as a great need for the society, particularly for members living and working in low and middle income countries (LMICs), where access to subscription journals can be limited. This feedback is reinforced by the fact that blogs posted by members that discuss various HPSR topics and share new evidence and learning are the most visited area of the HSG website. We need your help to continue and to further enhance our coverage of new and emerging knowledge. Our communications team are ready and waiting to receive and share your blogs with fellow HSG members and other audiences via our website, newsletter and social media.

Access to knowledge in journals was an important concern for members from both research and policy-making communities, especially in LMICs.While internet connectivity is improving in LMICs, and the digital infrastructure that now exists has the potential to transform access to knowledge, the primary obstacles are increasingly no longer technological, but are related to issues of content licensing, distribution, and access control. The number of open access journals are growing, but this is still not enough. As a vibrant society valuing equity and inclusiveness, HSG could act on several fronts:

  • As knowledge producers, we could strive to publish only in the journals that afford open and free access to all, especially to those living and working in LMICs.
  • We could partner with only those journals that value equity and free access to knowledge.
  • We could engage publishers and advocate for broadening open access for LMIC residents.

What do members think about these ideas for action? Do you have other suggestions? Please do share your comments and suggestions via the comment box at the end of this blog.

Opportunities for engagement with peers through face-to-face opportunities is valued by members. The biennial Global Symposia on HSR were highlighted as a particularly useful platform for interaction, especially by members based in the Global North and those who are at a more advanced stage of their careers. Thematic Working Groups (TWGs) activities such as online webinars, blogs and online discussions were also considered to be important, especially by those at an early stage of their career and/or based in LMICs. As a society driven by the engagement and participation of its diverse membership, we should be encouraging and supporting HSG’s ten TWGs to expand their activities to run more webinars focused on knowledge dissemination or on methods dissemination and capacity building. Our website statistics shows that webinars are the second most visited part of the HSG website, attracting many members and followers.

Capacity building opportunities were requested by younger members and/or those at an early stage of their career.We are trying to meet these needs through activities such as skills building sessions during the global symposia. These sessions are fully subsidized by HSG. Doing more capacity building webinars could be another possibility for HSG. This activity could also reach a wider audience than those able to attend the biennial symposia. We could further source materials through HSG’s teaching and learning resource database – created by our Teaching and Learning TWG – and try to work with members to build strong HPSR teaching courses in the universities and educational institutions they work in. HSG could also explore activities with members to support capacity building activities at regional or national levels. We likely need to grow our funding if HSG is to expand its contribution to capacity building.

Advocating for the field of HPSR and for its funding emerged as a critical need mentioned by most. Our membership largely asked for two key activities: (a) increase the recognition and the importance of HPSR globally and nationally through enhanced advocacy efforts and (b) advocate for an increased funding for the field of HPSR (on a global and national level) to afford more funding opportunities to members. Our advocacy efforts would require action on two levels. The first being the Board and Secretariat engaging with HSG partners and designing and delivering joint advocacy efforts at the global level to insure that HPSR features prominently in global debates, discussions and resolutions as an important field of science helping the world achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Secondly, HSG needs to collaborate with society members to support their own advocacy efforts at national and regional levels. Engaging members to co-deliver HSG’s regional engagement strategy – to be considered by the HSG Board soon – will be important. We are excited to already be supporting engagement activities led by Board members in Latin America, Africa and Europe. We want to see more of this and need your support.

Finally, members would also like the HSG membership package to offer more value. Suggestions includedreduced symposium registration, reduced journal article processing charges, and more free HSG membership offers. The HSG Secretariat and Board continue to work to enhance the society’s membership offer. We have already established partnerships with three journals, and have developed a range of societal and monetary benefits for our members. More details about these benefits are available at the membership area of HSG’s website.

I hope you find this summary of the survey useful. Once again, we would like to thank all of you who responded to the membership survey. It has helped inform our collective thinking and planning, so that we can build and grow HSG into a society that supports, energizes and offers fantastic value to its diverse and inspiring membership. Please continue to share your views and ideas with the HSG Secretariat, Board, and your fellow members. Thank you.

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