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IDS alum appointed chair of international health society

Published on 17 October 2018

Professor Asha George, a former IDS PhD researcher has been appointed as Chair of Health Systems Global – the first international membership organisation fully dedicated to promoting health systems research and knowledge translation.

Asha George, Chair, Health Systems Global
Asha George, Chair, Health Systems Global, Toby Phillips Photography.

Where next for Health Systems Global (HSG)?

The appointment was announced at the Fifth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research (HSR2018) which took place in Liverpool and brought together over 2,200 policy makers, advocates, practitioners and researchers from across the world to discuss how to make progress towards universal health coverage (UHC).  IDS is a member of a consortium of UK partners that co-convened HSR2018 with Health Systems Global (HSG), the World Health Organization, and the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research.

On being appointed as HSG Chair, Professor George said:

“It’s an honour to be confirmed  as Chair of Health Systems Global, a membership society that not only champions health systems research and knowledge translation, but also models best practice by taking seriously issues of inclusiveness and diversity within global health. In the next two years, apart from planning for the next symposium convened by a Middle Eastern consortium in Dubai, I look forward to working with the membership to making Health Systems Global truly global, through regional and country level action in partnership with key networks, universities and civil society organisations.”

A continued focus on accountability in health

Professor George, now based at the School of Public Health at the University of the Western Cape, completed her PhD at IDS on women’s maternal mortality and the accountability of health workers in 2007.  She was supervised by Hilary Standing, now an Emeritus Fellow at the Institute.  She has also worked as an advisor to UNICEF, WHO and USAID on community-based approaches since 2008.

Professor George reflected on how issues around accountability which her PhD explored are still very much at the centre of current health debates and were the focus of discussions at HSR2018, some of which were led by IDS’ colleagues including those working on the Unequal Voices project.

Promoting interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approaches to achieving UHC

Professor George highlighted how the interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach that has long underpinned development studies, and that she strongly associates with her time at IDS, is now becoming embedded in health research.

Professor George said:

“My time at IDS and the people I met transformed my life.  It offered me a flexible learning environment and the opportunity to interact with others outside of my own field but who were engaged in trying to achieve social change.”

“I never saw myself as an academic and I think that’s why I chose IDS, because of its interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach that embraces activists, policy makers and practitioners, as well as researchers.”

As set out in the final statement from HSR2018 (pdf), Professor George argued that this type of critical engagement that is also interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral would be absolutely critical in tackling the complex global health challenges of today’s world and in making progress towards UHC.

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