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

Photo of Linda Waldman, KNOTS Research Fellow More details

Photo of Melissa Leach, IDS Director More details

Photo of Nick Nisbett, IDS Research Fellow in the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction team More details

Photo of Pauline Oosterhoff, Research Fellow, Participation Power and Social Change More details

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Sandra Baxter is Manager for the Human Development Resource Centre, and works in IDS Knowledge Services More details

Photo of Shilpa Deshpande, IDS More details

photo of Shilpi Srivastava More details

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Photo of Tamahi Kato More details

Photo of Tanvir Ahmed, IDS PhD student More details

Photo of Tessa Lewin More details

Tom Barker is the Senior Nutrition Convenor, Knowledge Services Team More details

Professor Xuilan Zhang, Senior International Associate with the Rising Powers in International Development programme and Director, Institute of Social Development and Public Policy, Beijing Normal University. 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

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

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Equity and Inclusion in Health Programming

Equity and inclusion are key issues for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), given its strong commitment to the Agenda 2030 principle of “leaving no one behind” and to achieving Universal Health Coverage. However, efforts to guarantee equity and inclusion face not only technical and material challenges but also social and political ones, especially in relation to governance and accountability. More details

Engaging Men and Boys in Sanitation and Hygiene Programmes

Frontiers of CLTS 11 (2018)

This issue of Frontiers of CLTS shares and builds on the learning from a desk study that explores examples of men’s and boys’ behaviours and gender roles in sanitation and hygiene (S&H). More details

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

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