Health

Achieving universal health coverage (UHC) or ‘health for all’ by 2030 underpins the Sustainable Development Goal on health. This means that everyone should be protected from financial risk in accessing healthcare or services, and have access to quality essential healthcare services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines. To achieve this ambitious goal, IDS research and knowledge focuses on the strengthening of health systems, mutual learning and collaboration and reducing inequalities.   

A home care worker from the Mulanje Mission Hospital, Malawi, crushes antibiotics before applying them to the tumour on Patrick Mandeule's leg. Credit
Kieran Dodds / Panos

  • Evidence is a foundation of the strong health systems needed to achieve UHC. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa and Zika in Latin America have demonstrated the importance of an effective and resilient health system in protecting people against catastrophic health shocks. The transmission of infections from animals to humans and the growing challenge of resistance to antibiotics demonstrate the need to take into account the wider social and ecological challenges in designing intervention strategies to build resilient health systems.
  • Our current global health landscape has substantially changed since the first Declaration of Alma Ata in 1978. Achieving health for all requires unprecedented global cooperation and mutual learning between governments, philanthropic organisations, research institutions, civil society and pharmaceutical companies. 
  • Realising these goals will require us to address the poor or non-existent access of the most marginalised to affordable, quality health services. Health inequities - that is, unfair and avoidable difference in health associated with poverty, gender inequalities and other factors that marginalise large numbers of people. If existing weaknesses in governance and accountability arrangements are not tackled, the effort to achieve Universal Health Coverage as part of the fairer world envisaged in the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is unlikely to be achieved.
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Photo of Alex Shankland, IDS Research Fellow More details

Photo of Alex Shankland, IDS Research Fellow More details

Photo of Alex Shankland, IDS Research Fellow More details

Photo of IDS researcher Amber Huff More details

Photo of Annie Lowden More details

Photo of Annie Wilkinson More details

Aparna John, DPhil Candidate, Health and Nutrition Cluster, Institute of Development Studies More details

Photo of Ayako Ebata, Post Doctoral Researcher, Health and Nutrition research cluster More details

Photo of Becky Mitchell More details

Photo of Cathérine Müller, Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction research team More details

Photo of Catherine Holley,  Information Officer for the Human Development Resource Centre (HDRC) in IDS Knowledge Services. More details

Photo of Gerry Bloom, Research Fellow of the Knowledge Technology and Society team More details

Photo of Hayley MacGregor More details

Photo of Henry Lucas from Knowledge Technology and Society Team More details

More details

Photo of Inka Barnett More details

Photo of Jackie Shaw, Research Fellow in the Participation research cluster More details

Photo of Jerker Edstrom More details

Jody Harris photo More details

Leah Murphy is the Health and Education Convenor with the Knowledge Services More details

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Livestock, Livelihoods and Health

Livestock, Livelihoods and Health is an interdisciplinary research programme exploring diseases that can be transmitted from wild or domesticated animals to people (known as zoonoses). More details

Myanmar Pig Partnership

The Myanmar Pig Partnership is focusing on the risks of zoonotic disease emergence associated with the rapid growth and intensification of livestock production in Myanmar in recent years. More details

National Health Systems From a Comparative Perspective: Studies of Local, Regional and Participatory Management (Decentralisation, Participation and Equity in the English NHS)

This study examines the Brazilian National Health System (SUS) in comparison with the National Health Service (NHS) in England, in order to develop proposals for reform towards an effective, universal, quality health system in Brazil. More details

Non-communicable diseases and development: Future Pathways

This project examines the impact of the rise of non-communicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries. More details

Protecting the rural poor against the economic consequences of major illness

Major illness in the family has become an important cause of household impoverishment in China and the ex-command economies of Southeast Asia, as these countries have managed the transition to a market economy. More details

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre

The STEPS Centre is an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement hub, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It aims to develop a new approach to understanding, action and communication on sustainability and development. More details

Supporting Policies, Programs and Enabling Action through Research (SPEAR)

Supporting Policies, Programmes and Enabling Action through Research (SPEAR) is a Flagship Programme (FP4) within the Agriculture for Nutrition and Health Program. The main objective of SPEAR is to understand and enhance agriculture’s contribution to improving nutrition at scale. More details

UK-Brazil Learning Exchange on Food and Nutrition Policy

IDS and Food Foundation partner with Brazilian researchers to explore mutual learning on food and nutrition security policy, bringing together parliamentarians, civil society and policy actors to discuss best practice. More details

Urbanisation and Changing Food Systems Addressing the Nutrition Transition

We plan to develop a research network and carry out background research on urban food environments in rapidly growing cities and towns in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia with the goal of applying for a major GCRF call (and additional calls) in 2017/8. More details

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View all Research Theme's publications

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This is the front cover to the IDS Disability Briefing 1, 'Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights of Persons with Disabilities'.

Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights of Persons With Disabilities

IDS Disability Briefing 1 (2018)

The World Health Organization estimates that 15 per cent of the world’s population have a disability and that a higher prevalence of disability occurs among people in lower-income countries. More details

This is the cover to IDS Health Briefing 2, 'Mutual Learning for Universal Health Coverage'.

Mutual Learning for Universal Health Coverage

IDS Health Briefing 2 (2018)

Accelerating progress towards the goal of achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030 is an essential component of equitable, sustainable and resilient development. 60 per cent of all deaths are caused by chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, which disproportionately affect poor and marginalised communities with limited access to vital health services. More details

This is the front cover to the book, 'Innovations Urban for Sanitation'.

Innovations for Urban Sanitation: Adapting Community-led Approaches

Over half the world’s population now lives in urban areas and a large proportion of them lives without improved sanitation. Efforts to tackle open defecation in rural areas has been led by the Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) movement. More details

Future Health Systems - Innovations for equity

In From the Cold: Shifting the Discourse on Informal Providers in Bangladesh and India

In Bangladesh and India, informal healthcare providers (IHPs) have long been part of the countries’health systems. However, formal recognition of their existence is sensitive, partly due to resistanceand concern from professional health bodies. Research by Future Health Systems (FHS) partners ICDDR,B and IIHMR has been instrumental in bringing the issues to discussion tables. Consequently,stakeholders have begun to recognize and work with IHPs – something previously unheard of. More details

Future Health Systems - Innovations for equity

Climate Change: A Threat to Child Food Security in the Indian Sundarbans

Future Health Systems Issue Brief 1 (2018)

The Sundarbans, the mangrove forest delta shared both by India and Bangladesh, is among the worst hit regions of climate change in the world. Even though food insecurities due to climate change are felt across the region, the distribution of vulnerabilities is largely uneven depending upon existing climatic and social intersections.Within the context of socio-cultural and political dynamics, and rapid globalization, efforts to respond to, mitigate, or adapt to climate change needs to address issues of equity and social justice, posing both challenges and opportunities. More details

Future Health Systems - Innovations for equity

Integrating Actions to Tackle Antimicrobial Resistance into Strategies to Achieve Universal Health Coverage

Future Health Systems Issue Brief 10 (2018)

It is critical that ensuring people’s access to effective treatment for common infections is aligned with efforts to reduce the risk of emerging antimicrobial resistance.The Institute of Development Studies, a Future Health Systems partner, is influencing policy agendas to give greater focus on the need for the just and sustainable use of antimicrobials. More details

Key Considerations: Burial, Funeral and Mourning Practices in Équateur Province, DRC

This brief summarises key socio-cultural considerations concerning events related to death, burial, funerals (rites or ceremonies), and mourning in the context of the outbreak of Ebola in the DRC, June 2018. More details

This is the front cover to IDS Bulletin 49.2, 'Accountability for Health Equity: Galvanising
a Movement for Universal Health Coverage'.

Accountability for Health Equity: Galvanising a Movement for Universal Health Coverage

IDS Bulletin 49.2 (2018)

This issue of the IDS Bulletin is based around three principal themes that emerged from the workshop as needing particular attention. First, the nature of accountability politics ‘in time’ and the cyclical aspects of efforts towards accountability for health equity. Second, the contested politics of ‘naming’ and measuring accountability, and the intersecting dimensions of marginalisation and exclusion that are missing from current debates. Third, the shifting nature of power in global health and new configurations of health actors, social contracts, and the role of technology. More details

Menstrual Hygiene Management in Humanitarian Emergencies

Until recently the issue of menstrual hygiene management (MHM) for women and girls in emergencies had been somewhat overlooked by agencies engaged in humanitarian response. More details

A teaser image for BMC journals.

Scaling Up ART Adherence Clubs in the Public Sector Health System in the Western Cape, South Africa: a Study of the Institutionalisation of a Pilot Innovation

Globalization and Health 14.40 (2018)

In 2011, a decision was made to scale up a pilot innovation involving ‘adherence clubs’ as a form of differentiated care for HIV positive people in the public sector antiretroviral therapy programme in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. In 2016 we were involved in the qualitative aspect of an evaluation of the adherence club model. More details

Non-IDS publication

Freebook: Pathways to Health and Sustainability

This is a Free Book available to download from the publisher. This new collection draws on four books in the series, together addressing three themes central to understanding how pathways to sustainability emerge in response to health and disease challenges. More details

A teaser image for BMC journals.

We Have the Internet in Our Hands’: Bangladeshi College Students’ Use of ICTs For Health Information

Globalization and Health 14.31 (2018)

Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) which enable people to access, use and promote health information through digital technology, promise important health systems innovations which can challenge gatekeepers’ control of information, through processes of disintermediation. More details

A teaser image for BMC journals.

Health System Innovations: Adapting to Rapid Change

Globalization and Health 14.29 (2018)

A fundamental challenge for health systems is the need to adapt to changes in the patterns of health service need, scientific and technological developments, and the economic and institutional contexts within which providers of health services are embedded. This is especially true of many low and middle-income countries, where the pace of multiple and interconnected changes is breath-taking. More details

ESRC-DFID Research for Policy and Practice: Women's Life Choices

This collection of ESRC-DFID-funded research identifies critical elements that are important to address if women’s and girls’ lives are to change for the better. The research looks at the mobility constraints experienced by girls and how a lack of access to means of transport hampers their access to paid work, health services, and schooling. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Effectiveness of Leadership Capacity Building in the Health Sector

It is argued that the most effective types of capacity building processes to improve leadership skills in the health sector are monthly intensive training More details

Using a business model and cost-effectiveness analysis to evaluate mobile phone technology based nutrition and agriculture advisory services in Tanzania and Ghana

This methodological brief focuses on the business model and cost effectiveness analysis component of the mNutrition evaluation and is led by Gamos. More details

Inception Report: External evaluation of mobile phone technology-based nutrition and agriculture advisory services in Africa and South Asia

The GSM Association (GSMA), working with a wide range of mobile network operators and civil society organisations, is launching a series of nutrition-focused m-health and m-agriculture initiatives in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. GSMA refers to nutrition-enhanced initiatives collectively as ‘m-nutrition’. This report summarises the plans for an impact evaluation of two of these nutrition-enhanced initiatives: mHealth in Tanzania and mAgri in Ghana. More details

This is the front cover to IDS Health Briefing 1, 'Tackling Antibiotic Resistance'.

Tackling Antibiotic Resistance

Health Briefing 1 (2017)

In today’s world, drug resistant infections travel and spread as quickly as planes do. Therefore it is in the UK’s interest to tackle AMR and to help other countries to do the same. More details

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