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Future Health Systems is a research consortium working to improve access, affordability and quality of health services for the poor. We are a partnership of leading research institutes from across the globe working in a variety of contexts: in low-income countries (Bangladesh, Uganda), middle-income countries (China, India) and fragile states (Afghanistan) to build resilient health systems for the future. After a successful first five-year phase from 2006-2011 (see our success stories), we are entering a new six-year phase of research, funded mainly by UK aid.

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FHS Researcher made Chair of The Alliance Board

Future Health Systems

We are pleased to announce that FHS Research Director, Professor David Peters of Johns Hopkins University (JHU), has become the new Chair of Board for The Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research. David Peters has served on the Alliance Board for three years and has collaborated with the Alliance in editing the last Flagship Report on Essential Medicines and on the Implementation Research Guide.

Supporting childhood vaccination in Rajastan through digital necklace

Future Health Systems

FHS Young Researcher awardee, Mohammed Shahnawaz (Research Fellow at Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR)), has been using his award to assess whether a “near field communication” chip-based mobile phone application for the remote, real-time monitoring of immunisation progress contributes to immunisation adherence, coverage, and resource conservation in rural Udaipur, Rajastan.

Via a project called Khushi Baby, this new technology comes in the form of a pendant on a necklace, similar to the traditional black thread with amulets worn by children in the area to ward off disease. The pendant contains a chip which stores the vaccine history of each child and can be scanned by health care workers to quickly obtain and update the child’s vaccination records. This data is stored in a cloud and can also be accessed by the Ministry of Health and other health officials.

BBC News has recently written a news story about this innovative project, which hopes to expand their coverage over the next year to up to 4,000 children across 100 villages.

EVENT: Health Systems: What's Gender Got to Do with It? - Feb 15th 13:00 GMT

Future Health Systems

Monday 15 February 2016 13:00 to 14:30 GMT, Room 121 at the Institute of Development Studies, UK

Health systems are not gender neutral; gender is a key social stratifier, which affects health system needs, experiences, and outcomes. Yet, health systems research (HSR) often fails to sufficiently consider gender as a social relation.

Building on and presenting the work of “Research in Gender and Ethics: Building Stronger Health Systems” (RinGs), Rosemary Morgan - Research Fellow at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland with the RinGs project - will explore why it is important to consider gender within health systems and health systems research. The session will include an interactive creative communications exercise to highlight the significance of gender within health systems.

All welcome!

FHS Researcher provides evidence at International Development Select Committee on Ebola

Future Health Systems

On 10th November 2015, Annie Wilkinson, IDS Post-Doctoral Researcher and member of the IDS Future Health Systems team gave evidence to the International Development Select Committee inquiry into what DFID and the international community is doing to improve the international response for future disease outbreaks following the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Annie, who has been working in Sierra Leone since 2009 on Lassa fever and also works on the DFID and Wellcome Trust funded Ebola Anthropology Response Platform, was in the country, including the eastern Kenema district, on a number of occasions during the Ebola outbreak. When asked about the reasons for the delay in the international response to the Ebola outbreak, she said communication was a major challenge. There was “…a big communication gap with Freetown and also between the country and regional offices of Government agencies and NGOs, and headquarters back in Geneva or London”. Part of the reason for this gap was because “…it goes against the interests of nations and sometimes particular people or political parties to admit things are out of control, so there are communication problems and there is also a vested interest in saying that things are fine. We saw a lot of denial of the scale of the problem and that was damaging”.

Another important dimension that impacted on the effectiveness of the Ebola response was the delay in community engagement. Even after the response started in earnest, local concerns were not addressed in a sensitive and flexible way. Annie argued that this was damaging, as it “…prevented meaningful and early engagement of local institutions and organisations, which could have made a more positive effort to the control by helping to develop more locally appropriate control measures”. Annie suggested that future “epidemic responses should be designed to be inclusive, flexible and adaptive from the start”, and that more fundamentally, DFID and other international actors should work in partnership with Sierra Leone and other countries to support sustained long-term efforts to address the underlying causes of such epidemics, including entrenched inequality and the mistrust of institutions.

Read the oral evidence or listen to the discussion in the audio file below.

Antibiotics by rbrwr, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  rbrwr 

Live-streamed panel session 20th October, 12.00 BST: Gender and health systems in post-conflict settings

Future Health Systems

ReBUILD and RinGs are hosting an event in Liverpool on October 20th from 12pm - 1:30pm BST to launch the Building Back Better report and a new online resource. This meeting will also be an opportunity to find out more about post-conflict health systems reconstruction in Mozambique, Northern Uganda, Timor Leste and Sierra Leone and discuss the implications of reconstruction in these countries for other settings. The new set of resources will be available via the ReBUILD and RinGs websites immediately after the launch event.

The event will be live-streamed via this link (using password 'Gallery') so that you can still follow the presentations and discussions from anywhere in the world.

Speakers are:

  • Welcome - Sally Theobald, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK
  • Introduction to ReBUILD and the broader programme of work – Tim Martineau, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK
  • Overview of Building Back Better, including the publications, briefs and website – Val Percival, Carleton University, Canada
  • Perspective from Sierra Leone – Haja Wurie, College of Medicine and Applied Health Sciences, Freetown, Sierra Leone
  • Perspectives from Northern Uganda – Sarah Ssali, Department of Women & Gender Studies, Makerere University, Uganda and Justine Namakula, Department of Public Health, Makerere University, Uganda
  • Equity challenges in health systems in post conflict contexts: Tim Ensor, Director, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences
  • Response from panel: Tulip Mazunda, BBC Foreign Correspondent and Alvaro Alonso-Garbayo, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK

    Photo courtesy of Steve Evans

Global Health Initiatives and new development agendas

Future Health Systems

On Tuesday 15 September 2015 at 1pm UK time at the Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, UK, Dr Sara Bennett, CEO of Future Health Systems and Associate Director of the Health Systems Program at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, will give a seminar entitled: Ending aid while sustaining outcomes: Global Health Initiatives and new development agendas.

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