Health

Individuals, communities and societies face a number of health challenges associated with rapid and accelerating social, economic, demographic and ecological change. These have been manifested in major outbreaks of infectious diseases, a growing problem of chronic, non-communicable disease and the continued existence of large numbers of people living in poverty and vulnerable to a wide variety of potential shocks. There is the growing realisation that the world's population is interconnected and health challenges are faced by rich and poor countries alike.

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

IDS research and knowledge activities to address these challenges on health revolve around resilience, accountability, urbanisation and digital innovation for health system transformation.

1. Resilience

The speed of economic, social, technological and ecological change is likely to accelerate in the future. This will make the contribution of the health sector to social resilience increasingly important. 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.

2. Accountability

Health inequities - that is, unfair and avoidable difference in health associated with poverty, gender inequalities and other factors that marginalise large numbers of people. Innovative approaches are needed that recognise changing roles of states, private actors and community and social organisations, and the interaction between local, national and global levels. 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.

3. Urban

With more than half of humanity now living in urban areas, and with the urban population in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, two of the world's poorest regions, set to double in the next two decade, there is an urgent need for strategies that enable people to live safely in these rapidly growing cities. These include the provision of decent hygiene and sanitation, context-appropriate forms of disease containment, measures to ensure access to safe, effective and affordable medical care and the recognition of the peri-urban poor as legitimate citizens.

4. Digital innovation

Information and Communication technologies (ICTs) are going to have a major impact on health and health systems in the near future. To ensure that everyone (including the very poor) benefits from this new technology, it is vital that those designing new applications, people responsible for health systems and social researchers come together to explore the opportunities and potential challenges, especially for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

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Photo of Alex Shankland, IDS Research Fellow More details

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

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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

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

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

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Accountability for Health Equity Programme

Since the publication of the 2004 World Development Report a range of different attempts have been made to make the design, prioritisation and delivery of health services more accountable to different stakeholders. However, complex politics and power dynamics can limit or skew people's abilities to access services or hold them to account, particularly for poor and marginalized people. More details

AllAfrica and IDS development reporting initiative

IDS and AllAfrica have teamed up to produce and distribute compelling multi-media content on critical issues for Africa’s future, as part of a development reporting initiative. More details

Assessing the Impact of Conflict and the Effects of WFP Humanitarian Interventions on Moderate Acute Malnutrition and Other Developmental Outcomes in Mali

This project is a multidisciplinary research partnership involving IFPRI, PCD, IDS and WFP which builds on a unique pre-crises baseline conducted in early 2012 to provide rigorous evidence for policymakers on the effects of humanitarian interventions by WFP on child malnutrition in in Mali. More details

Bridging the Gap Evaluation

This is a mid-term evaluation of the Bridging the Gaps Programme a global program operating in 16 countries across all the main key populations at-risk for HIV. More details

Changing health and welfare in China and the UK

The project looks at the changing role of state and non-government actors in providing social services in China’s rapidly evolving welfare regime, and aims to promote mutual learning between officials and researchers in China and the UK. Despite historical, social and institutional differences, there is a degree of similarity in strategies emerging. More details

Childhood Vaccination in West Africa

Vaccines for children are currently high on international policy, aid and funding agendas, as a major promised means to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Yet major challenges have emerged in ensuring effective coverage and dealing with public anxieties. More details

Childhood Vaccination: Science and Public Engagement

Vaccines for children are currently high on international policy, aid and funding agendas, as a major promised means to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Yet major challenges have emerged in ensuring effective coverage and dealing with public anxieties. More details

China Health Development Forum

The China Health Development Forum is an informal association coordinated by the Chinese Health Economics Institute (CHEI) and IDS. More details

Citizen Engagement Programme (CEP)

An empowerment and accountability programme aimed at improving the quality of health and education services in Mozambique. More details

Dynamic Drivers of Disease in Africa Consortium

A STEPS-led consortium of researchers aiming to advance understanding of the connections between disease and environment in Africa, focusing on animal-to-human disease transmission.. More details

Ebola: Lessons for development

IDS researchers argue that there is an urgent need to look beyond the immediate, on-the-ground concerns of disease control and containment to consider the bigger and broader questions about international development. More details

Ensuring Health Care for the Rural Poor: alternative approaches in China and Vietnam

A comparative study of rural health care services undertaken in collaboration with partners in Vietnam and China. More details

Final External Review of the Cross-Cutting Disability Research Programme

This independent external review aimed to determine the extent to which the three year Cross-Cutting Disability Research Programme (CCDRP) in Nepal, India, Zambia, Uganda, and Kenya, has met its expected impact, outcome and outputs. More details

Future Health Systems Research Programme Consortium

Future Health Systems is a research consortium working to improve access, affordability and quality of health services for the poor. More details

Health Systems Global Communications

IDS is working with Health Systems Global (HSG) to develop communications, share messages and engage with its members and the global community. More details

Human Development Innovation Fund

The Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF) identifies and supports innovations that have the potential to create social impact in education, health and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) across Tanzania. More details

Independent Evaluation of the Reduction of Maternal and Neonatal Mortality in Kenya Programme

An evaluation of a programme in Kenya to avert maternal and neonatal deaths through nationwide life saving skills training for health professionals, and integrated health system strengthening in selected counties. More details

Interactions Eldis Website

Interactions is an IDS-hosted interactive online resource on Empowering Women and Girls, featuring real-time research and analysis. The website features up-to-the minute research findings and policy analysis on gender-based violence, urban health and unpaid care work from IDS and partners More details

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

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IDS publications on international development research

Putting Health Back in China’s Development’ in China Perspectives

Creating a Harmonious Society 2007.3 (2007)
IDS publications on international development research

Decentralisation and Difference: Indigenous Peoples and Health System Reform in the Brazilian Amazon

IDS Bulletin 38.1 (2007)

The implications of decentralisation for minority and marginalised groups are complex and contested. It has long been an article of faith for 'decentralisation and participation' advocates that bringing decision making closer to the grassroots is a prerequisite for overcoming the unresponsiveness of monolithic, top-down state service delivery systems or unaccountable, exclusionary privatised ones (Tendler 1997). More details

Front cover of Bulletin 37.5, Sexuality Matters

Sexuality Matters

IDS Bulletin 37.5 (2006)

This IDS Bulletin addresses a theme that mainstream development has persistently neglected: sexuality. Over the last decade, development policymakers and practitioners have come to endorse a multi-dimensional approach to poverty, and growing attention has been placed on achieving greater freedom, wellbeing and human rights for all. More details

IDS Policy Briefing

AIDS: Questions for Development

IDS Policy Briefing 32 (2006)

Scientists, policymakers, practitioners and communities have spent a quarter of a century attempting to deal with HIV. The virus has nevertheless become pandemic and one of the most significant challenges to health and development today. More details

This is the cover of a Working Paper

Polio Vaccines - Difficult to Swallow: The Story of a Controversy in Northern Nigeria

IDS Working Paper 261 (2006)

Global health and poverty reduction discourses have recognised immunisation as one of the most affordable and effective means of reducing child mortality and in a broader sense, as an essential contribution to poverty reduction efforts. More details

IDS Working Paper

The Social Dynamics of Infant Immunisation in Africa: Perspectives from the Republic of Guinea

IDS Working Paper 262 (2006)

Infant immunisation is currently a focus of national and global policy attention in relation to Africa as a key means to address ill-health and contribute to the Millennium Development Goals. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Migrant Workers in England and Wales: An assessment of Migrant Worker health and safety risks

This report, which draws on interviews with 200 migrant workers in five regions of England and Wales, considers whether the position that recent migrant workers occupy within the labour market puts their health and safety at increased risk, in comparison with other workers in similar positions. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Science, Litigation and Laggers: The case of Asbestos

Science, Ethnicity and the Lifecycle brochure (2006)
IDS publications on international development research

The Grant is What I Wat: The Politics of Disability and Social Security

Journal of Biosocial Science (Anthropology & Public Health special issue) 38.1 (2006)

The paper illustrates how national discourses influence the presentation and experience of suffering and the way in which doctors mediate diagnoses. The implications of local understandings of ‘health citizenship’ for expectations of the post-apartheid state are explored. More details