In public health research, the focus has traditionally been on descriptive and analytic epidemiological research (“what”, “why”, “where,” and “who”). Less attention has been given, particularly in low-income countries, to “how” interventions do or do not work in the “real world”, given the involvement of different actors, the context in which implementation occurs, and the factors that influence implementation. Future Health Systems (FHS) has been at the forefront in the exploration, application and growth of implementation research (IR).
Filtering by Category: Stories of Change
Future Health Systems research into empowering communities to demand and shape health services has informed the development of a WHO strategy on service delivery. The strategy reflects a paradigm shift towards an increased emphasis on preventive public health, as well as curative strategies, to address current and future health challenges.
Members of the Future Health Systems (FHS) consortium have spearheaded important and previously unexplored work on the ethics of health systems research (HSR). FHS has contributed empirical knowledge on understanding how researchers are dealing with the ethics of HSR on the ground, as well as conceptual thinking, including exploring issues of justice, health capabilities, and responsiveness. The work has engaged new actors, built a movement of parties interested in the issues, and influenced the agendas of global institutions such as the World Health Organization.
Saving money, saving lives: community saving groups lead to improvements in maternal and newborn health care in Uganda
Future Health Systems (FHS) work on maternal and newborn health in the poorest districts of eastern Uganda has contributed to a story of community empowerment where people have learnt to prioritise, prepare and save money for childbirth. This increases the likelihood of delivery in a health facility, and therefore the chances of a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth under skilled care.
In 2002, China launched a voluntary health insurance scheme to provide financial protection to people affected by disease-related illness. Future Health Systems (FHS) work in Hanbin County, western China, has drawn on innovative methods from implementation and participatory research to train and support local policymakers, managers and health professionals in the evidence-based implementation of the scheme.
Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodologies can help empower marginalised groups to capture and articulate their experiences and concerns to decision-makers. Future Health Systems (FHS) has worked with women in the Sundarbans of West Bengal to use Photovoice – a PAR method using photographs and narrative – to raise awareness of the challenges the women face to access health care. The initiative has led local policymakers and health workers to prioritise, and take steps to address, the issues.
In the United States and parts of Africa and Asia, community scorecards (CSCs) have improved accountability and responsiveness of services. Work supported by Future Health Systems (FHS) sought to evaluate CSC feasibility in a fragile context (Afghanistan) through joint engagement of service providers and community members in the design of patient-centred services, to assess impact on service delivery and perceived quality of care.
Systems thinking represents a unique theoretical and practical contribution. It facilitates ways to cross disciplines, and brings previously unused tools and approaches to tackle global health implementation differently. Future Health Systems (FHS) has played a major role in applying and advocating for the approach as a means to holistically understand health systems in low- and middle-income countries, as well as adaptation and scale-up of the project’s interventions.
Poor quality of maternal and newborn health services in Uganda have resulted in low maternal health service utilisation and high newborn mortality rates, both at home and at health facilities. The support Future Health Systems (FHS) provided to health workers to improve maternal health service delivery illustrates how a package of interventions that equips health workers with the necessary knowledge, skills and equipment, supplies and other non-financial incentives can improve the quality of maternal and newborn health service delivery.