CHP spotlights health policy and systems research at international public health symposium

5 February 2013

“Health policy and systems research (HPSR) isvital to address systemic challenges that must be tackled to improve service delivery and support implementation.”

Echoing the views of Bongani Mayosi and others from a recent Lancet article, CHP Director Dr Jane Goudge explained to the international audience at the Wits School of Public Health’s symposium Building Capacity 4 Health that the field in South Africa was very under-resourced.

“CHP is a small, grant-funded unit which needs to grow to support the evidence base to support health system transformation for improved service delivery, implementation of public health priority programmes and contribute to improved population health. Yet a sizeable proportion of posts in the three South African HPSR groups are grant-funded, leading to organisational instability. We need proper funding of current teaching activities, instead of cross-subsidising through research grants. ”

“HPSR is not taught at under-graduate level and as a ‘boundary spanner’ embracing multiple disciplines and perspectives, it requires a long apprenticeship. It is a little-known career option, and also has little understanding or acceptance by biomedical peers.”

She said collaboration was the key to building the field of HPSR in South Africa.

“We need to strengthen the links between academia and all levels of the health system, perhaps through a national network of those working in the field. To promote career opportunities, we propose a master’s course in health policy and systems research and for core competencies to be built through government posts for health system analysts.”

The Wits School of Public Health hosted the symposium on 24 January 2013 to commemorate its new building which was opened by the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, at a gala dinner held afterwards. During this event, the School launched a special edition of the journal Global Health Action which features the work of the School and CHP.

Download Dr Goudge’s presentationhere. To read the more about the opening and access the programme, available presentations and speeches,click here. For more on the special edition,click here.

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