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.
< previous 1 2 next >
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

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

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

More details

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

< previous 1 2 next >
< previous 1 2 next >

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

< previous 1 2 next >

View all Research Theme's publications

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


IDS publications on international development research

What is the Role of Community Capabilities for Maternal Health? An Exploration of Community Capabilities as Determinants to Institutional Deliveries in Bangladesh, India, and Uganda

BMC Health Services Research 16 (2016)

While community capabilities are recognized as important factors in developing resilient health systems and communities, appropriate metrics for these have not yet been developed. Furthermore, the role of community capabilities on access to maternal health services has been underexplored. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Synergies, Strengths and Challenges: Findings on Community Capability from a Systematic Health Systems Research Literature Review

BMC Health Services Research 16 (2016)

Community capability is the combined influence of a community’s social systems and collective resources that can address community problems and broaden community opportunities. We frame it as consisting of three domains that together support community empowerment: what communities have; how communities act; and for whom communities act. More details

IDS publications on international development research

How Can Health Systems Research Reach the Worst-Off? A Conceptual Exploration

BMC Health Services Research 16 (2016)

Health systems research is increasingly being conducted in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Such research should aim to reduce health disparities between and within countries as a matter of global justice. For such research to do so, ethical guidance that is consistent with egalitarian theories of social justice proposes it ought to (amongst other things) focus on worst-off countries and research populations. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Exploring Pathways for Building Trust in Vaccination and Strengthening Health System Resilience

BMC Health Services Research 16 (2016)

Trust is critical to generate and maintain demand for vaccines in low and middle income countries. However, there is little documentation on how health system insufficiencies affect trust in vaccination and the process of re-building trust once it has been compromised. We reflect on how disruptions to immunizations systems can affect trust in vaccination and can compromise vaccine utilization. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Unlocking Community Capabilities Across Health Systems in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Lessons Learned from Research and Reflective Practice

BMC Health Services Research 16 (2016)

The right and responsibility of communities to participate in health service delivery was enshrined in the 1978 Alma Ata declaration and continues to feature centrally in health systems debates today. Communities are a vital part of people-centred health systems and their engagement is critical to realizing the diverse health targets prioritised by the Sustainable Development Goals and the commitments made to Universal Health Coverage. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Unlocking Community Capabilities for Improving Maternal and Newborn Health: Participatory Action Research to Improve Birth Preparedness, Health Facility Access, and Newborn Care in Rural Uganda

BMC Health Services Research 16 (2016)

Community capacities and resources must be harnessed to complement supply side initiatives addressing high maternal and neonatal mortality rates in Uganda. This paper reflects on gains, challenges and lessons learnt from working with communities to improve maternal and newborn health in rural Uganda. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Unlocking Community Capability Through Promotion of Self-Help for Health: Experience from Chakaria, Bangladesh

BMC Health Services Research 16 (2016)

This paper describes the project’s implementation, impact, and reflective learnings. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Expressing Collective Voices on Children’s Health: Photovoice Exploration with Mothers of Young Children from the Indian Sundarbans

BMC Health Services Research 16 (2016)

The Indian Sundarbans is marked by inhospitable terrain and frequent climatic shocks which jointly hinder access to health care. Community members, and women in particular, have few means to communicate their concerns to local decision makers. Photovoice is one way in which communities can raise their local health challenges with decision makers. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Comparison of Social Resistance to Ebola Response in Sierra Leone and Guinea Suggests Explanations Lie in Political Configurations not Culture

Critical Public Health 01.27 (2016)

Sierra Leone and Guinea share broadly similar cultural worlds, straddling the societies of the Upper Guinea Coast with Islamic West Africa. There was, however, a notable difference in their reactions to the Ebola epidemic. As the epidemic spread in Guinea, acts of violent or everyday resistance to outbreak control measures repeatedly followed, undermining public health attempts to contain the crisis. More details

This is the cover of the book ''A Practical Guide to Implementation Research on Health Systems'.

A Practical Guide to Implementation Research on Health Systems

This is an open access resource targeted primarily at post-graduate students intending to undertake field research on health systems interventions in resource-poor environments. More details

image for non-ids publications

The Effect of New Cooperative Medical Scheme on Catastrophic Health Expenditure and Impoverishment from Tuberculosis Care

International Journal for Equity in Health (2016)

This article assesses the effect of New Cooperative Medical Scheme (NCMS) on relieving catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) and impoverishment from TB care in rural China. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Strands of Struggle: Dealing with Health and Citizenship in the Aftermath of Asbestos Mining

Journal of Southern African Studies 42.5 (2016)

Asbestos mining is banned in many parts of theworld, and promoted in others. This article examines the effects of asbestos mining in South Africa, 30 years after the mines closed. Focusing on mining communities, it explores the political struggles that the communities have engaged in to address environmental threats, rehabilitate land, and secure compensation for their ill-health. More details

Non-IDS publication

Towards the Just and Sustainable Use of Antibiotics

Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice 9.31 (2016)

The emergence and spread of antibiotic resistant pathogens poses a big challenge to policy-makers, who need to oversee the transformation of health systems that evolved to provide easy access to these drugs into ones that encourage appropriate use of antimicrobials, whilst reducing the risk of resistance. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Towards the Just and Sustainable Use of Antibiotics

Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice 31.9 (2016)

The emergence and spread of antibiotic resistant pathogens poses a big challenge to policy-makers, who need to oversee the transformation of health systems that evolved to provide easy access to these drugs into ones that encourage appropriate use of antimicrobials, whilst reducing the risk of resistance. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Applying Systems Thinking to Strengthen Health Systems

Future Health Systems Stories of Change 2 (2016)

Systems thinking represents a unique theoretical and practical contribution. It facilitates ways to cross disciplines, and brings previously unused tools and approaches to tackle global health implementation differently. Future Health Systems (FHS) has played a major role in applying and advocating for the approach as a means to holistically understand health systems in low- and middle-income countries, as well as adaptation and scale-up of the project’s interventions. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Strengthening Capacity to Enhance Delivery: Implementation of Payment Reform in China

Future Health Systems Stories of Change 5 (2016)

In 2002, China launched a voluntary health insurance scheme to provide financial protection to people affected by disease-related illness. Future Health Systems (FHS) work in Hanbin County, western China, has drawn on innovative methods from implementation and participatory research to train and support local policymakers, managers and health professionals in the evidence-based implementation of the scheme. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Saving Money, Saving Lives: Community Saving Groups Lead to Improvements in Maternal and Newborn Health Care in Uganda

Future Health Systems Stories of Change 6 (2016)

Future Health Systems (FHS) work on maternal and newborn health in the poorest districts of eastern Uganda has contributed to a story of community empowerment where people have learnt to prioritise, prepare and save money for childbirth. This increases the likelihood of delivery in a health facility, and therefore the chances of a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth under skilled care. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Enhancing Social Accountability for Health Care in Afghanistan

Future Health Systems Stories of Change 3 (2016)

In the United States and parts of Africa and Asia, community scorecards (CSCs) have improved accountability and responsiveness of services. Work supported by Future Health Systems (FHS) sought to evaluate CSC feasibility in a fragile context (Afghanistan) through joint engagement of service providers and community members in the design of patient-centred services, to assess impact on service delivery and perceived quality of care (QOC). More details

IDS publications on international development research

Through the Lens: Empowering Women in Vulnerable Communities to Voice their Concerns

Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodologies can help empower marginalised groups to capture and articulate their experiences and concerns to decision-makers. Future Health Systems (FHS) has worked with women in the Sundarbans of West Bengal to use Photovoice – a PAR method using photographs and narrative – to raise awareness of the challenges the women face to access health care. The initiative has led local policymakers and health workers to prioritise, and take steps to address, the issues. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Consequences and Futures of Inequalities (an introduction to Part II)

If we continue on the pathway of growing inequality, what will the consequences be? What are the possibilities of alternative pathways which take us to a fairer world? What will be the critical tipping points along the way? More details