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

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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

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Photo of Gerry Bloom, Research Fellow of the Knowledge Technology and Society team More details

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Photo of Henry Lucas from 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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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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View all Research Theme's publications

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IDS Working Paper

Household Coping Strategies in Response to the Introduction of User Charges of Social Services: A Case Study on Health in Uganda

IDS Working Paper 86 (1999)

This study examines approaches to health care seeking and financing by households living in communities in two poor rural districts of Uganda. More details

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Public Participation in Health: Making People Matter

IDS Working Paper 84 (1999)

Participation of communities is widely argued to be an important factor in improving health outcomes and the performance of health systems. More details

BRIDGE logo

Gender, HIV/AIDS Transmission and Impacts: A Review of Issues and Evidence

Illustrated with case studies on Bangladesh, Brazil and Uganda, this report highlights that there are gender differences in vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Health and Wellbeing

Gender and Development In Brief 7 (1998)
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Financing Health Care in Poor Rural Counties in China: Experience from a Township-Based Co-operative Medical Scheme

IDS Working Paper 66 (1998)

The economic reform programme in China, which started in the late 1970s, has had a major impact on rural health services. More details

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The Reasons for the Rise in Childhood Mortality During the 1980s in Zambia

IDS Working Paper 76 (1998)

Between 1980 and 1991 the proportion of Zambian children dying before reaching five years of age rose from 15 to 19 percent. This paper explores why this happened. There are no data on trends in morbidity. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Health sector reform lessons from China

Social Science and Medicine 54 (1997)
IDS publications on international development research

Health Human Resource Development in Rural China

Health Policy and Planning 12 (1997)
IDS publications on international development research

The Impact of China's Health Sector Reform on County Hospitals

World Hospitals and Health Services 33 (1997)