Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR)
Our HPSR is based on the conceptualization of health systems as complex adaptive systems (CAS) that comprises of both hardware (e.g medicines and commodities, infrastructure, human resource for health) and software (governance processes, power relations, actor values) (Lipsitz 2012, Barasa, Molyneux et al. 2017). Our work focuses on three sub-areas which are interrelated. For all the three sub-areas, we work with managers and policy makers, while embedded across the various levels of the health system including facility level, sub-national level and national level.
Our first sub-area of work focuses on applying the conceptualization of health systems as CAS to study the often-dynamic relationship between the system hardware and software; and how that in turn affects the organization and functioning (including performance) of health systems. This is with an overall aim of understanding how various system interventions work (or do not work) to achieve their intended goals. We also seek to identify and understand leverage points for system level interventions to maximize health system performance as they seek to progress towards the attainment of UHC. Our current research spans across various health systems elements including health systems governance, human resources for health, health information systems and service delivery systems.
The second sub-area of focus is on the processes and science of policy engagement and knowledge translation. With this, we deliberately design and conduct our HPSR studies, embedded within the health systems and embracing the spirit of co-production of knowledge with health managers and policy makers so as to facilitate uptake and application of research findings. We currently host the National Centre (NC) for the African Health Observatory Platform for Health Systems and Polices (AHOP); a knowledge translation platform established in partnership with 4 other NCs, the WHO Regional Office for Africa, London School of Economics (LSE), the European Observatory (EurObs), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ( B&MGF).
In our third sub-area of work, in addition to contributing to research capacity building in the department and programme, we work with other partners and collaborating institutions to undertake deliberate capacity building for health system managers and policy makers. This capacity building mainly focuses on enhancing the managers and policy makers’ understanding of the organization and functioning of the health systems, building essential soft skills necessary for managing the dynamic relationships between health system hardware and software; and enhancing their appreciation for, and application of research evidence in policy making and routine decision making.