Health Systems Research Consortia and the Promotion of Health Equity in Low and Middle-Income Countries
Health systems research is widely identified as an indispensable means to achieve the goal of health equity between and within countries. Numerous health systems research consortia comprised of institutions from high-income countries and low and middle-income countries (LMICs) are currently undertaking programs of research in LMICs. These partnerships differ from collaborations that carry out single projects in the multiplicity of their goals, scope of their activities, and nature of their management. Recent conceptual work has explored what features might be necessary for health systems research consortia and their research programs to promote health equity. Identified features include selecting research priorities that focus on improving access to high-quality health services and/or financial protection for disadvantaged populations in LMICs and conducting research capacity strengthening that promotes the independent conduct of health systems research in LMICs. Yet, there has been no attempt to investigate whether existing consortia have such characteristics. This paper describes the results of a survey undertaken with health systems research consortia leaders worldwide to assess how consistent current practice is with the proposed ethical guidance. The findings suggest that consortia may be fairly well organised to promote health equity, but have scope for improvement, particularly in terms of achieving inclusive priority-setting.