As we embark on a new 2020, celebrating the tenth anniversary for Health Systems Global (HSG) and preparing for another Global Symposium planned during November in Dubai, I want to briefly summarise what we have done as a society during 2019.
Building a resilient society
Expanding HSG’s reach and making it an even more member-focused society is a priority for the Board and Secretariat, reiterated by the mid-term review (accessible to HSG members). In 2019, HSG Board deliberations were made accessible to all HSG members through the membership portal, periodic updates from the Secretariat and the Board initiated and monthly newsletters continued. Since I last wrote, the Dubai board meeting minutes were approved and posted. In addition, I have found the monthly newsletter invaluable in keeping up to date with membership activities and opportunities. If you are not already subscribed, please take a moment to subscribe here.
As the Thematic Working Groups (TWGs) are a key way through which the membership collaborate on specific interests, we continued to strengthen the institutional support provided to them. The Board expanded the TWG Board Working Group and assigned each TWG a Board member, in addition to their HSG communications focal point. Karen Daniels provided foundational support in strengthening the TWGs and we remain deeply indebted to her, for her commitment in strengthening HSG and overseeing TWGs growth and evolution. In lieu of her resignation from the Board, we are delighted that Vladimir Gordeev will lead in facilitating further conversations and changes as transitions in groups and leadership take place. Consultations between Board members and TWG leads held in the last quarter of 2019 will set the stage for future planning.
HSG’s secure foundations and strength partially rests on having Curatio International Foundation as a nimble, professional and fiscally responsible Secretariat. As their five year tenure ends, the Board is supporting a series of steps to ensure the Secretariat transitions in 2021. Based on the call for interested individuals and organizations, the Secretariat Transition Working Group led by Barbara McPake has short-listed several candidates. Please expect to hear about the competitively selected new Secretariat in the next few months.
The current Board is mid-way through its two-year tenure. All Board members are volunteering on multiple working groups and committees, ranging from guiding the Symposium, supporting TWGs, expanding regional engagement, as well as strengthening advocacy and capacity building. I am deeply grateful for how consistently they have voluntarily invested time, consideration and active engagement in strengthening HSG, amidst multiple other commitments. Board elections will take place in the first half of 2020. I strongly urge those interested in making a difference in shaping HSG to engage actively in the elections. Please nominate candidates, run for election yourself, engage with candidates during the campaign period, and vote for those whom you see as best fit in leading the Society.
The Global Symposium
As many of you know, given that previous Symposia were held in Vancouver and Liverpool, we acted on membership feedback to ensure that the next Symposia are convened in under-represented regions. We are delighted to partner with the American University of Beirut and the Mohamed Bin Rashid School of Government to convene the next Symposium in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The process of selecting a venue is a very considered and deliberative process, engaging with partners to solicit and develop several options. It is also a process where we are continuously learning. The current Symposium City Selection Working Group led by Kumanan Rasanathan formalized criteria informing decision making, and I led analysis mapping dimensions across the globe relevant to the deliberations. Based on extensive work done by the Symposium city selection working group, the Board discussed various short-listed candidates for 2022 and will be making an announcement soon. Stay tuned!
For HSR2020, the Program Working Group co-chaired by Fadi El-Jardali and Sara Bennett have developed an extremely exciting theme through multiple consultations. The Symposium theme centrally addresses power and politics, social and environmental forces, and social and technological innovations in re-imagining health systems. Webinars engaging 198 participants discussed the theme, oriented members in different regions on how to submit abstracts and discussed multi-media submissions. Over 214 organized sessions were received and I am extremely grateful to the Scientific Committee in peer reviewing multiple abstracts. Individual abstracts are due on February 6th and we encourage the membership to submit abstracts themselves, but to also encourage interest among others, in particular those outside the traditional boundaries of health systems, to apply. You can find more information on the call for abstracts and how to submit on the HSR2020 website.
Building and engaging the community
During 2019, our 10 TWGs published eleven blog posts; hosted three webinars (including one joint session) involving 396 participants; started a virtual journal club on LGTBQI and health systems, and launched two Health Policy and Planning (HPP) journal supplements: one post-Symposium supplement after HSR2018 and one on Access to Medicines through Health Systems in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). In addition, TWGs ran virtual business meetings and organized a series of consultation meetings in Africa and Asia on the role the private sector in UHC, as well as the 2nd International Community Health Worker Symposium in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Across LAC, Daniel Maceira, in partnership with numerous organizations, convened 10 HSG LAC events (Ottawa, Washington, San José de Costa Rica, St. Augustine of Trinidad & Tobago, Bogotá, Lima, Montevideo, Tucumán, São Paulo and Buenos Aires). A call for 10 regional events in Africa was also launched by Aku Kwamie with Okikiolu Badejo, Aissa Diarra, Lucy Gilson and myself, with the selected events kicking off in early 2020.
In the South Asian region, two side meetings were convened by Kaaren Mathias in New Delhi and Dhaka, partnering with national collaborators and TWG leads, resulting in a group paper on equity and health systems research in the region. In the Asia-Pacific region, two national meetings were convened in the Philippines by Kathy Reyes to support UHC and build partnerships for international collaborations. A side meeting will also be convened alongside PMAC in Thailand, where Kathy Reyes, Sara Bennett, Kumanan Rasanathan and myself will be facilitating further discussions about HSG in the region. Please get in touch if you will be at PMAC.
In further building our community, and to better understand the capacity building needs of our society, we conducted a membership survey in several languages with 900 individuals responding. Led by Lucy Gilson, the Board capacity building group will use the survey findings to better plan for skills-building sessions at HSR2020 and provide guidance for future HSG capacity building initiatives.
In collaboration with the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (The Alliance) and HPP, we launched a call for mentoring early-career women health policy and systems researchers based in LMICs. The call generated a lot of interest and feedback, attracting 250 applications. Our members and TWG leads were invaluable in working with the Secretariat to screen applications and enlist 20 volunteer mentors. The research papers are being finalized and we hope to launch the journal supplement featuring first time women authors at HSR2020.
Advocate for the field of HPSR and health system development
During 2019 our advocacy work was significantly enhanced through consultations with the HSG membership, led by Tom Barker and the HSG communications team with support from the Board Advocacy Working Group led by Adnan Hyder. HSG co-hosted an official side event at UNGA 74 with the Alliance and Government of Georgia on September 26th to advocate for the value and importance of HPSR in the context of achieving UHC. Advocacy messages developed with the membership leading up to UNGA74 resulted in up to 36.6k user accounts on Twitter being exposed to the #HealthyEvidence hashtag alone. Thanks to the HSG Regional Working Group, members also wrote engaging blogs considering the HSG UHC campaign themes in national and regional contexts, which were picked up by UHC2030 and others.
Preparations are now being made for HSG’s Women of HPSR campaign, to be launched between the International Day of Women and Girls in Science in February 2020 and the UN Commission for the Status of Women and International Women’s Day in March 2020. The campaign will work with the membership to promote the roles and contributions of Women in Health Policy and Systems Research; highlight structural barriers facing women in the field; and explore and communicate actions needed to tackle them.
What to expect in 2020
2020offers to be another important and busy year for our society. Just to name few important activities that will engage our members:
- Celebrating 10th anniversary for our Society;
- Launching a new, completely re-developed HSG website;
- Launching Board elections, with seven Board seats to be filled by newly elected or re-elected individuals;
- Transitioning several TWGs and their leadership.
- Organizing the 6th Global Symposium (HSR2020) in Dubai;
- Launching societal awards and winners to be announced at HSR2020 in Dubai;
- Announcing the new hosts for the 7th Global Symposium to take place in 2022;
- Announcing the new Secretariat to lead the Society starting from 2021;
- Embarking on new strategic plan development for 2021-2016, hopefully with the new Secretariat, with the Board taking the lead for this process;
The Board continues to support the Secretariat, TWG leads and the membership in realizing the ambitious goals of the Society. We look forward to working with all of you in advancing HPSR with HSG through these exciting opportunities in the year ahead.