Building the Field of Health Policy and Systems Research: An Agenda for Action
PLoS Med - August 2011 - 8(8): e1001081. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001081
Following the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in November 2010, the journal PLoS Medicine commissioned three articles on the state of the art in health policy and systems research. Published in August 2011 and authored by a diverse group of global health researchers, the articles examine current challenges and local policy development strengthening in low- and middle-income countries.
There is an urgent need to build the Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR) field and in particular to develop understanding across different disciplinary boundaries.
The development of HPSR is impeded by a cluster of related issues, namely
(i) a heavy reliance on international funding for HPSR,
(ii) an excessive focus on the direct utility of HPSR findings from specific studies, and
(iii) a tendency to under-value contributions to HPSR from social sciences.
Innovations in funding HPSR are needed so that local actors, including policy-makers, civil society, and researchers, have a greater say in determining the nature of HPSR conducted.
Strategic investment should be made in promoting a greater shared understanding of theoretical frames and methodological approaches for HPSR including, for example, the development of HPSR journals, methodological workshops, and shared HPSR teaching curricula.
Dedicated and supportive homes for HPSR need to be found within universities, and also be developed as independent research institutes.
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