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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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

Exclusive Breastfeeding and Early Initiation: Target Groups and Influential Messages

ORIE Research Summary 12 (2016)

This briefing outlines the findings from operations research on exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) and early initiation. The study supports refinement of the infant and young child feeding (IYCF) strategy implemented by the Working to Improve Nutrition in Northern Nigeria (WINNN) programme. More details

IDS publications on international development research

One Health: Science, Politics and Zoonotic Disease in Africa

Zoonotic diseases – pathogens transmitted from animals to people – offer particularly challenging problems for global health institutions and actors, given the complex social-ecological dynamics at play. More details

IDS publications on international development research

From promises to progress: assessing Nigeria's nutrition commitments

A report card on governance and community contexts for nutrition interventions, highlighting next steps in tackling child malnutrition. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Researchers from Ahmadu Bello University receive grant for research on long-term outcomes of Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programme

In April 2015, the Department of Community Medicine of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nigeria, received the first tranche of monies for a new research project to study long-term outcomes following treatment in a Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programme in Katsina State. The grant was awarded by ORIE (Operations Research and Impact Evaluation), a DFID-funded consortium of UK and Nigerian organisations, More details

IDS publications on international development research

Team of researchers from Bayero University Kano receives grant to compare the feeding practices of mothers of stunted and non-stunted children in Northern Nigeria

In March 2015, a team in the Department of Community Medicine of Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria, led by Professor Zubairu Iliyasu, received a research grant for a new research project to compare the feeding practices of mothers with stunted and non-stunted children. The grant was awarded by ORIE, a DFID-funded consortium of UK and Nigerian organisations. More details

IDS publications on international development research

How to strengthen a Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition programme in northern Nigeria

ORIE Research Summary 9 (2015)

This summary highlights findings and recommendations from operation research on a Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programme in northern Nigeria. The study analysed the perceived benefits of CMAM; reasons for beneficiaries not defaulting from the programme; challenges of accessing CMAM services; the workloads and motivation of health workers and community volunteers; and wh More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Ebola Crisis and post-2015 Development

Journal of International Development 27.6 (2015)

This article argues that the recent Ebola crisis is the result of structural violence, as interlocking institutions have produced interlaced inequalities, unsustainabilities and insecurities. More details

IDS publications on international development research

ORIE Nigeria Gender Synthesis Report: Gender-related findings across ORIE studies (Year Three)

Gender inequality and child mortality, morbidity and malnutrition are inextricably linked. Data collected in ORIE’s research and evaluation studies throw light on the links between the low status and autonomy of women, low uptake of nutrition services, and poor child health outcomes, in four states of Northern Nigeria. More details

Strengthening_Evidence_Based_Policy_2015

Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy: Outputs April 2014 – March 2015

Accountable Grant Outputs Brochure (2015)

In much writing about development, policy and practice are portrayed as if they are joined at the hip. Policy shapes practice, while learning from practice informs policy processes. In this portrayal, practice is usually understood to refer to development practice, or how development programmes and projects are implemented. More details

IDS publications on international development research

ORIE infographic: greater autonomy for women will improve child health and nutrition in Northern Nigeria

How will greater gender equality contribute to better child health and nutrition in Northern Nigeria? Using ORIE data collected in Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi and Zamfara this infographic makes a convincing argument that greater decision-making power and control over resources for women can translate into better health and nutrition outcomes for children and their mothers. More details

IDS publications on international development research

WINNN and ORIE: Working to Improve Nutrition in Northern Nigeria

This two page briefing provides an overview of the work of the DFID-funded Working to Improve Nutrition in Northern Nigeria programme, which is seeking to improve the nutritional status of over 6 million children across five northern states, and its independent Operations Research and Impact Evaluation component. More details

IDS Evidence Report 137 Front Cover

Constitutional Reforms and Access to HIV Services for Women in Low-resource Settings in Nairobi, Kenya

IDS Evidence Report 137 (2015)

After more than two decades of agitation for a new constitution, the violence that followed Kenya’s 2007 presidential elections finally led to a reform movement to overhaul the way the country was governed. On 4 August 2010, voters approved a new Constitution by a clear majority, reflecting a widespread desire for change. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Addressing Resistance to Antibiotics in Pluralist Health Systems

There is growing international concern about the threat to public health of the emergence and spread of bacteria resistant to existing antibiotics. An effective response must invest in both the development of new drugs and measures to slow the emergence of resistance. This paper addresses the former. More details

This is the front cover to IDS Working Paper 454.

Building a Resilient Health System: Lessons from Northern Nigeria

IDS Working Paper 454 (2015)

The overarching aim of this paper is to address the issue of building resilient health systems in the context of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa which has brought renewed attention to this challenge. The paper highlights insight gained from two decades work creating resilient health systems in Nigeria—in Northern Nigeria in particular. More details

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When the Hen Crows: Obstacles that Prevent Indigenous Women from Influencing Health-care Policies – A Case Study of Shillong, Meghalaya, India

IDS Evidence Report 119 (2015)

Meghalaya is a landlocked and largely agrarian state in northeast India with an approximate population of three million. Various government surveys report that roughly half the state lives below the poverty line. More details

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Ebola and Lessons for Development

IDS Practice Paper in Brief 16 (2015)

As the Ebola crisis continues to unfold across West Africa and the international community belatedly responds, broader questions arise beyond the immediate challenges on the ground. More details

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Global Governance and the Limits of Health Security

IDS Practice Paper in Brief 17 (2015)

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has exposed the limits of the current approach to the global governance of infectious diseases, which mixes public health and security interests. More details

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Strengthening Health Systems for Resilience

IDS Practice Paper in Brief 18 (2015)

In countries with high levels of poverty or instability and with poor health system management and governance, people are highly vulnerable to shocks associated with ill health, including major epidemics. More details

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Return of the Rebel: Legacies of War and Reconstruction in West Africa’s Ebola Epidemic

Practice Paper in Brief 19 (2015)

The spread of Ebola in West Africa centres on a region with a shared recent history of transnational civil war and internationally led post-conflict reconstruction efforts. This legacy of conflict and shortcomings in the reconstruction efforts are key to understanding how the virus has spread. More details

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Ebola, Politics and Ecology: Beyond the ‘Outbreak Narrative’

IDS Practice Paper in Brief 20 (2015)

The origin of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been traced to the likely confluence of a virus, a bat, a two-year-old child and an underequipped rural health centre. More details