Strengthening capacity for health policy and systems: What you told us

During August to September 2019, HSG conducted a survey to better understand the capacity strengthening needs of its members

Strengthening capacity for health policy and systems: What you told us

During August to September 2019, HSG conducted a survey to better understand the capacity strengthening needs of its members – considering their individual needs, the needs of their organizations and reflecting on the networks to which they belong. Each of these three levels of capacity are widely understood to be important both in their own right and as reinforcing each other. In working across levels, capacity strengthening initiatives have a better chance of generating sustained change over time.  

This topic and survey were clearly important to members, and in total we received 901 responses. Past HSG surveys have received considerably fewer responses. We are very grateful to all those who participated – for their insights and ideas about this community’s current capacity assets and needs, as well as future possible capacity strengthening activities. 

Whilst the HSG Board continues to digest the findings, we wanted to share with you some of the insights the survey offers about YOU – the HSG membership. 

Survey respondents came from across all the regions of the world, in terms of place of residence, and there was a fairly even female/male balance overall.  

The majority of respondents were based in Universities/Higher Education Institutes (HEI) and NGOs, compared to other settings. However, in South Asia, specifically, the majority of respondents were based in NGOs.  

Over half of the respondents reported they had more than eight years’ experience in the health policy and systems (HPS) field, and around 40%, less than eight years’ experience. Greater proportions of respondents with more experience live in North America and Europe and Central Asia, compared to other regions.  

Respondents’ current roles were varied. Research/analysis was the most frequently identified role overall and across regions. But respondents are also working in evaluation, supporting policy development and implementation, teaching, and are involved in advocacy or in leadership and management within their organizations. A group are working in funding organizations, specifically. 

The survey also allowed more specific consideration of three roles. The majority (over 80%) again identified that they were involved HPS research or analysis. But we are also a society involved in HPS education (55% respondents). Importantly, also, around 43% of respondents were working in an organization that is itself directly involved in decision-making for health policy and health systems development. We are not, then, only researchers!  

Variation across regions showed: 

  • fewest respondents working in organizations with an explicit research mandate from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and most from East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA);  
  • fewest working in an organization with a teaching mandate from South Asia, and most from Europe and Central Asia; and  
  • fewest working in decision-making organizations from North America, Europe and Central Asia, and most from SSA and MENA.  

Our next steps are to share the survey findings with a range of HSG groups, including members. In addition, the HSG Board is pro-actively using the findings to inform development of the #HSR2020 skills-building sessions, for example, as well as to generate ideas for future activities. We aim to present these ideas for discussion with you, the HSG membership through various channels, such as through debate in Dubai and via the society’s thematic working groups and regional networks. Watch this space! 

Overall, the findings suggest that we will need to consider capacity strengthening activities that leverage the particular strengths of HSG as a network of people working in different settings around the world, recognizing the different needs of different groups of members. 

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