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

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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

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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

Creating an Evidence Map to Support the Strategic Use of Evidence within the International HIV/AIDS Alliance

The Knowledge Impact and Policy Team at IDS is supporting the HIV AIDS Alliance Secretariat in the development of an Evidence Map to make accessing and interpreting research evidence on the outcomes of their programmes quicker and easier. 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

HEART (Health and Education Advice and Resource Team)

HEART is a consortium of leading organisations in international development, health, nutrition, education, social protection and WASH. 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

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View all Research Theme's publications

Use this search to display this theme's publications and filter by journal, author, country and much more.


Improving Rural Lives Through the Liberian Motorbike Boom

Parallel to the mobile phone revolution in Africa is the lesser talked about motorbike boom. Motorbike taxis have changed the face of transport and provided employment opportunities, particularly in rural parts, in many African countries. More details

Reducing Teenage Pregnancy in Sierra Leone

Research directly involving teenagers and their families in Sierra Leone to reduce teenage pregnancy has helped pave the way for a new community-friendly Child and Family Welfare Policy. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Antimicrobial Resistance and Universal Health Coverage

The WHO launched a Global Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in 2015, with AMR being declared a global crisis by world leaders in the G7, G20 and the UN General Assembly. World leaders have also adopted universal health coverage (UHC) as a key target under the sustainable development goals. This paper argues that neither initiative is likely to succeed in isolation from the other and that the policy goals should be to both provide access to appropriate antimicrobial treatment and reduce the risk of the emergence and spread of resistance by taking a systems approach. More details

Non-IDS publication

Anti-microbial Resistance and Universal Health Coverage

BMJ Global Health 2.4 (2017)

The WHO launched a Global Action Plan on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in 2015. World leaders in the G7, G20 and the UN General Assembly have declared AMR to be a global crisis. World leaders have also adopted universal health coverage (UHC) as a key target under the sustainable development goals. More details

Environmental Impact Assessments in refugee crises

The review highlights a selection of publically accessible examples of the where EIAs (or other environmental assessments) have been carried out in refugee situations. More details

IDS publications on international development research

“Unpicking Power and Politics for Transformative Change: Towards Accountability for Health Equity” Workshop Report

While “accountability” has become an increasingly popular buzzword in health systems debates and health service delivery, it has multiple – and contested – meanings. This is a report of an IDS international workshop which brought together 80-plus activists, researchers, public health practitioners and policy makers who critically examined the forces that shape accountability in health systems, from local to global levels. More details

Using quantitative methods to evaluate mobile phone technology based nutrition and agriculture advisory services in Ghana

This brief focuses on the quantitative impact evaluation in Ghana, led by IFPRI; a key component of the mNutrition impact evaluation. More details

Using quantitative methods to evaluate mobile phone technology based nutrition and agriculture advisory services in Tanzania

This brief focuses on the quantitative component of the impact evaluation of mNutrition in Tanzania, led by IDS, GAMOS and IFPRI. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Experiences of Using a Participatory Action Research Approach to Strengthen District Local Capacity in Eastern Uganda

To achieve a sustained improvement in health outcomes, the way health interventions are designed and implemented is critical. A participatory action research approach (PAR) is applauded for building local capacity such as health management, thereby increasing the chances of sustaining health interventions. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Characteristics of Community Savings Groups in Rural Eastern Uganda: Opportunities for Improving Access to Maternal Health Services

The objective of this study is to understand organizational characteristics, benefits and challenges of savings groups in rural Uganda. More details

A teaser image for BMJ Global Health Journals.

Universal Health Coverage, Economic Slowdown and System Resilience: Africa’s Policy Dilemma

BMJ Global Health 2.3 (2017)

Achieving universal health coverage (UHC) has become a dominant policy reoccupation within the global health community. For Africa, progress towards UHC involves ambitious goals for expanding access to a range of effective health services, a substantial increase in health expenditure, and establishing a greater reliance on prepayment and pooling mechanisms to finance healthcare. More details

Non-IDS publication

Peri-Urbanism in Globalizing India: A Study of Pollution, Health and Community Awareness

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2017)

This paper examines the intersection between environmental pollution and people’s acknowledgements of, and responses to, health issues in Karhera, a former agricultural village situated between the rapidly expanding cities of New Delhi (India’s capital) and Ghaziabad (an industrial district in Uttar Pradesh). More details

IDS publications on international development research

‘Nurture the Sprouting Bud; Do Not Uproot It’. Using Saving Groups to Save for Maternal and Newborn Health: Lessons from Rural Eastern Uganda

This paper describes saving practices, factors that encourage and constrain saving with saving groups, and lessons learnt while supporting communities to save through saving groups. More details

A teaser image for BMC journals.

ICTs and the Challenge of Health System Transition in Low and Middle-Income Countries

Globalization and Health 13.56 (2017)

The aim of this paper is to contribute to debates about how governments and other stakeholders can influence the application of ICTs to increase access to safe, effective and affordable treatment of common illnesses, especially by the poor. More details

A teaser image for BMC journals.

Policy Experimentation and Innovation as a Response to Complexity in China’s Management of Health Reforms

Globalization and Health 13.54 (2017)

There are increasing criticisms of dominant models for scaling up health systems in developing countries and a recognition that approaches are needed that better take into account the complexity of health interventions. More details

A teaser image for BMC journals.

Beyond Pilotitis: Taking Digital Health Interventions to the National Level in China and Uganda

Globalization and Health 13.49 (2017)

Innovation theory has focused on the adoption of new products or services by individuals and their market-driven diffusion to the population at large. However, major health sector innovations typically emerge from negotiations between diverse stakeholders who compete to impose or at least prioritise their preferred version of that innovation. More details

Cover -  Theme issue ‘One Health for a changing world: zoonoses, ecosystems and human well-being

Theme issue 'One Health for a Changing World: zoonoses, ecosystems and human well-being'

Pholosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 372.1725 (2017)

A Special Theme Issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, ‘One Health for a Changing World: zoonoses, ecosystems and human well-being’, showcases work produced by the Drivers of Disease Consortium. More details

Wp490_FrontCover

Accountability in Health Systems and the Potential of mHealth

IDS Working Paper 490 (2017)

The rapid spread of information and communication technologies (ICTs) (and of mobile phones in particular) across low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) has generated considerable excitement in development circles regarding their potential to revolutionise service delivery in health systems. More details

This is the front cover of MAVC Research Report ICT-facilitated accountability and engagement in health systems: a review of Making All Voices Count mHealth for accountability projects.

ICT-Facilitated Accountability and Engagement in Health Systems: a Review of Making All Voices Count mHealth for Accountability Projects

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) and mHealth innovations hold great potential to improve health systems and health outcomes while at the same time enhancing citizen engagement and accountability. Yet there has been little assessment of the impact of mHealth innovations on the ground. More details

Independent Evaluation of the Reduction of Maternal and Neonatal Mortality in Kenya: Formative Evaluation Findings

This brief presents the formative evaluation findings of the Independent Evaluation of the Reduction of Maternal and Neonatal Mortality in Kenya More details

Naming the moment

04 Oct 2017
By Erica Nelson

Playboy, porn and sex education

28 Sep 2017
By Kelly Shephard

Racing the clock to save mothers and protect newborns in Uganda

19 Sep 2017
By Stefan Swartling Peterson

Tweaking or transforming? Dancing around power and accountability

13 Sep 2017
By Godelieve van Heteren, David Clarke, Maryam Bigdeli

Transforming accountabilities for health

26 Jul 2017
By Karine Gatellier, Tom Barker