Health Policy and Systems Research

Health Policy and Systems Research
Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia / Unsplash

This abstract aims to understand David H. Peters commentary on “Health policy and systems research: the future of the field”. The World Health Organization defines Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR) as to how societies and its various factors aim to achieve collective health goals and various policy outcomes. Health systems and Health policies are both co-
dependent on each other. Thus, HPSR provides an interacting web of various fields of research like public health, sociology, psychology, economics, etc. It affects the working of health systems and its impact on health policies.

This multidisciplinary approach aims to achieve effectiveness, equity, health coverage, financial protection, and so on. Taking a turn from an individualist approach to solving problems, HPSR brings in the idea of a Dynamic system. A system where there is a relationship between various stakeholders that is policymakers, researchers, health Practitioners, communication, civil
societies, etc. There is also a relationship between health systems and various other systems like health, education, economy, etc.

David H. Peters explains HPSR by giving the example of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 SDGs areknown as the Global goals. It calls every individual for a better world a better life. It is based on the principle of leaving no one behind. There is an Integrated approach which is well defined in all the goals. Actions of one are dependent and are affected by
other goals.

SDG 3 ensures good health and well-being of all is dependent upon and is affected by SDG 1 No poverty, SGD 2 No hunger, etc. Thus, HPSR plays an important role in understanding what factors bring change in the health system and how to intervene.

It is no doubt that with a change in time there is also a change in the disease pattern and in the way of living. Current health challenges and health systems challenges include Antimicrobial resistance, the burden of NCDs, nutrition, climate change, zoonotic, mental health, urbanization, diagnostics, data analysis, etc. Such complexity of health systems requires multi-governance and the multi-disciplinary approach. This approach should be grounded with evidence and research work to promote decision making in health systems.

HPSR in India
The knowledge of HPSR in lower-middle-income countries is limited. India, however, is trying to strengthen the relationship between researchers and policymakers in terms of HPSR. In 2013, the idea of forming a Nation Knowledge Platform was formed to establish the relation between the
two. It is only in 2016 the idea was well conceptualised. There are other collaborators to it namely: The National Health Systems Resource Centre, the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Public Health Foundation of India and Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research. This platform can be seen as a great opportunity to strengthen the concept of HPSR in India. However, there still lacks the clarity as to how well to convert evidence-backed research in policy formation.

Health Policy and Systems Research
By Neeti Goutam, Strategic Lead, Communications, Sanrachana