PHP Seminar Series on Health Systems and Policies

The Department of Public Health and Policy Seminar Series provides a forum for presenting current research on health systems and policies in low-, middle- and high-income countries. The series cover empirical research, theoretical and methodological issues, and give an opportunity for staff and students to participate in debate and learn about new developments in health systems and policies research.

We will continue to co-operate with other teams and decide on a case by case basis what the benefits of cooperating are. We will keep the choice of topics broad but are specifically interested in those that work across departmental boundaries, provide an interdisciplinary perspective, or are otherwise “outside our normal box”. Other formats will be considered in addition to the traditional lunch-time seminar, such as panel discussions or debates.

Series organised by:
Dina Balabanova
Alec Fraser

Seminars open to:
Staff and students

Recent seminars:

Beyond utilisation: are health systems fit for the Sustainable Development Goals?

Dr. Margaret E. Kruk, Associate Professor of Global Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Tuesday 19th January: 12.45-14 pm, Mary Seacole Room, Tavistock Place

The beginning of 2016 marked a major transition in global health: the dawn of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) era.  The SDGs, ratified by 193 countries, include 23 health-related targets.  While the previous global goals, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) focused on maternal and child health and three infectious diseases, the new goals tackle a large swathe of health concerns including non-communicable diseases, substance abuse and mental health, road traffic and other injuries, and natural and human-made disasters. These will require more complex and more continuous care from the health system. Are health systems ready? Dr. Kruk’s Quality and Responsiveness Lab is analysing nationally-comparable data on health facility performance in low-income countries.  Dr. Kruk presented early findings on variations in primary care quality, volume and quality of care, and the role of in-service training in improving quality.  She discussed methodologic considerations and the implications of the findings for local and global health actors.

Dr. Kruk’s research generates evidence for improved health system quality and responsiveness in low- and middle-income countries.  She is interested in the intersection of user expectations and health system performance.  She has published on health care utilization and quality, population preferences for health services, maternal health care delivery, and health system resilience to shocks.  Dr. Kruk is also interested in the development of novel evaluation methods for assessing the effectiveness of complex initiatives, such as primary care reforms and universal health coverage.  She collaborates with colleagues in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia, Ghana, and Kenya.  Dr. Kruk served as Commissioner on the Lancet Global Health 2035 Commission on Investing in Health and currently serves on the Institute of Medicine Committee on Health System Strengthening. 

The big push toward Universal Health Coverage: Metrics, data and impact

Prof. Adam Wagstaff, Research Manager, Human Development and Public Services Team, Development Research Group, World Bank
Friday 20th November 2015 : 09:30 – 11:00 Globe Room, Keppel Street

The developing world is in the midst of a big push toward Universal Health Coverage (UHC). There is, however, confusion about what UHC means and how to measure it. As a result it is unclear how far countries are from reaching UHC, and the degree to which different UHC-inspired reforms have actually helped move countries towards UHC. In this seminar, Adam Wagstaff exposed the limitations of often-used UHC definitions and metrics, proposed a new UHC index that reflects a more satisfactory definition of UHC, presented results for selected countries, and used evidence from impact evaluations to see how far various UHC-inspired and other reforms have actually pushed countries towards UHC.

Adam Wagstaff is Research Manager of the Human Development and Public Services team in the World Bank’s Development Research Group. He has a DPhil in Economics from the University of York and, before joining the World Bank in 1997, was Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex. He is President-Elect of the International Health Economics Association (iHEA), was Associate Editor of the Journal of Health Economics for 20 years, has published extensively in several areas of health economics and public economics, and has worked in all regions of the world. He has also co-developed software for analysing health.

Health Technology Assessment as a means of setting evidence informed, context sensitive and procedurally fair priorities for healthcare coverage

Dr Kalipso Chalkidou (NICE International) and Dr Alexandre Lemgruber (PAHO), session chaired by Prof. Martin McKee

Tuesday 17th November 2015: 12.45-14.00, Jerry Morris AB, Tavistock Place

Dr Chalkidou discussed the role of Health Technology Assessment as a means of setting evidence informed, context sensitive and procedurally fair priorities for healthcare coverage. She outlined the Gates and DFID funded international Decision Support Initiative, a network of partners aimed at supporting decision makers to make more effective decisions to improve health outcomes and reflect on how the impact of supporting “better decisions” could be captured in a meaningful fashion.

Dr Lemgruber discussed HTA and its role in LAC. This was followed by a discussion about a network of networks and the value (and success metrics) of partnerships.

Dr Chalkidou is the founding director of NICE’s international programme, helping governments build technical and institutional capacity for using evidence to inform health policy. She is interested in how local information, local expertise and local institutions can drive scientific and legitimate healthcare resource allocation decisions. She has been involved in the Chinese rural health reform and also in national health reform projects in Colombia, Turkey and the Middle East, working with the World Bank, PAHO, DFID and the Inter-American Development Bank as well as national governments.

Dr Lemgruber is Regional Advisor in Health Technologies at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), responsible for technical cooperation with Member States in Health Technology Assessment, Health Technology Management and Regulation of Medical Devices.

‘Neoliberal epidemics’ and the politics of evidence

Ted Schrecker, Professor of Global Health Policy, Durham University; Co-author, How Politics Makes Us Sick: Neoliberal Epidemics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

Thursday 8th October 2015: 12:45 – 14:00, Jerry Morris AB, Tavistock Place

Despite the accumulation of evidence that socioeconomic adversity is destructive of health and contributes to health inequalities, we continue to be told – especially by epidemiologists and health planners – that the evidence base for the effectiveness of specific interventions that address social determinants of health is limited. To understand this tension, it helps to use jurisprudential analogies: like the choice of a standard of proof in law, choices about how much evidence, of what kind, is enough must be regarded as intrinsically political and value-driven.  Having made this case, I argue that in an age of selective austerity, rising inequality and widespread economic insecurity a guiding principle for public policy should be: ‘first, do no harm’.  On the best available evidence, much contemporary economic and social policy clearly fails that test.

Ted Schrecker’s academic background is in political science, and he has taught that discipline as well as environmental studies and population health (at the doctoral level) from an interdisciplinary perspective. For the past decade his research has addressed the consequences of transnational economic integration (globalization) for health and health equity; he also has a long-standing interest in issues at the interface of science, ethics, law and public policy. Ted is co-editor of the Journal of Public Health, and co-leads the Wolfson Research Institute’s Special Interest Group on Health Equity in a Glocal World at Durham University.


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