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 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 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

Jody Harris photo More details

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

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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

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

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View all Research Theme's publications

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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