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Institute of Development Studies (IDS)


IDS is an international centre of excellence in multi-disciplinary analysis, teaching, and practice of development based at the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK. Its areas of expertise include poverty dynamics, social policy analysis, processes for involving stakeholders, strategies for making health services more accountable to their community; and research methods that combine quantitative and qualitative evaluation of performance of health systems. The organisation has experience working on health and social protection in China, Uganda, and other Asian and African countries, innovative strategies to improve provider performance in China and Bangladesh, and developing analytic frameworks to bring together development and public health approaches to understanding health systems.

Who we work with at IDS

Recent FHS publications involving IDS


Apolot, R.R., Tetui, M., Nyachwo, E.B. et al. (2020) Maternal health challenges experienced by adolescents; could community score cards address them? A case study of Kibuku District– Uganda, Int J Equity Health 19, 191,

Approximately 34.8% of the Ugandan population is adolescents. The national teenage pregnancy rate is 25% and in Kibuku district, 17.6% of adolescents aged 12–19 years have begun child bearing. Adolescents mothers are vulnerable to many maternal health challenges including; stigma, unfriendly services and early marriages. The community score card (CSC) is a social accountability tool that can be used to point out challenges faced by the community in service delivery and utilization and ultimately address them. In this paper we aimed to document the challenges faced by adolescents during pregnancy, delivery and postnatal period and the extent to which the community score card could address these challenges.

Tayler E, Gregory R, Bloom G, Salma P, and Balkhy H (2019) Universal health coverage: an opportunity to address antimicrobial resistance?, The Lacent Global Health, Published Online September 20, 2019, DOI: 10.1016/S2214-109X(19)30362-6

On Sept 23, 2019, global leaders will gather at the UN for a high-level meeting on universal health coverage and discuss commitments and action to extend essential health services to over half of the world's population that have no access to them. 3 years ago, leaders met similarly at the UN General Assembly to consider antimicrobial resistance, perhaps the greatest threat to public health of our time. These two major global health priorities are much more closely linked than they might appear at first. If antimicrobial resistance is not controlled, health care will become more difficult, less effective, and more expensive. Conversely, action towards universal health coverage — and a positive response by countries at the meeting to the key asks proposed by the universal health coverage movement — can help expand coverage of measures to prevent and manage infection, including appropriate use of antibiotics. Countries have a great opportunity to both accelerate universal health coverage progress and tackle antimicrobial resistance, with substantial and sustainable gains.

Bloom G (2018) Service Delivery Transformation for UHC in Asia and the Pacific, Health Systems & Reform, Volume 5, Issue 1, DOI: 10.1080/23288604.2018.1541498

This article was drafted as part of a review of strategies for making progress toward universal health coverage in the countries of Asia and the Pacific. It focuses on strengthening the delivery of services, in the context of population aging. It argues that it is important to take into account big differences in development contexts and also the rapid, interconnected changes that many countries are experiencing. The article focuses especially on countries with relatively undeveloped institutions and pluralistic and highly segmented health sectors. It argues that attempts by these countries to import institutional arrangements from outside are likely to be complicated. It argues that government needs to focus on both short-term measures to meet immediate needs and the longer-term aim of establishing effective institutional arrangements. This means that they need to take into account the political factors that influence the direction of health system change. The article emphasizes the need to strengthen the capacity of the health system to address the growing challenge of chronic noncommunicable diseases to avoid heavy political pressure to expand hospital services. It then explores the opportunities and challenges associated with the rapid expansion of digital health services. It concludes with a discussion of government stewardship and management of health system transformation to address the major challenges associated with population aging.

The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Amref Health Africa and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) have agreed to collaborate in an effort to explore ways that technological innovations can contribute to government strategies for making progress towards universal health coverage (UHC). This means substantially increasing access by those whose basic health care needs are not being met. This report presents the outcome of a meeting held in Bengaluru, India. At this meeting, people with direct experience of different aspects of the development, piloting and taking to scale of technological innovations in India and a number of African countries explored the factors that influence this process.

Xiao, Y, Husain, L and Bloom, G (2018) Evaluation and learning in complex, rapidly changing health systems, Globalization and Health, 14:112, DOI: 10.1186/s12992-018-0429-7

Healthcare systems are increasingly recognised as complex, in which a range of non-linear and emergent behaviours occur. China’s healthcare system is no exception. The hugeness of China, and the variation in conditions in different jurisdictions present very substantial challenges to reformers, and militate against adopting one-size-fits-all policy solutions. As a consequence, approaches to change management in China have frequently emphasised the importance of sub-national experimentation, innovation, and learning. Multiple mechanisms exist within the government structure to allow and encourage flexible implementation of policies, and tailoring of reforms to context. These limit the risk of large-scale policy failures and play a role in exploring new reform directions and potentially systemically-useful practices. They have helped in managing the huge transition that China has undergone from the 1970s onwards. China has historically made use of a number of mechanisms to encourage learning from innovative and emergent policy practices. Policy evaluation is increasingly becoming a tool used to probe emergent practices and inform iterative policy making/refining. This paper examines the case of a central policy research institute whose mandate includes evaluating reforms and providing feedback to the health ministry. Evaluation approaches being used are evolving as Chinese research agencies become increasingly professionalised, and in response to the increasing complexity of reforms. The paper argues that learning from widespread innovation and experimentation is challenging, but necessary for stewardship of large, and rapidly-changing systems.

Recent FHS blogs from IDS

Why G20 key to achieving the Global Goals for Sustainable Development

I had the privilege of participating in a process led by the Japanese think tanks of the T20 (Think 20) to prepare policy briefs to feed into the deliberations of the G20 taking place in June. I was involved in producing the policy brief Deliberate Next Steps Toward a New globalism for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as part of a series on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and also published in The BMJ. Not only did the opportunity allow me to take part in stimulating discussions and debates around achieving Health for All , it also enabled me to catch a glimpse of increasingly important fora for policy deliberation that are emerging in the context of changing global power relationships.

Future Health Systems in Time

September 1978. October 2018. July 2004? My guess is that the first two dates will ring a bell for those with a passing knowledge of ‘global health’ and the third will make you scratch your heads. This year we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1978, which established primary health care and community involvement as core to the achievement of ‘health for all’. Whether the goals of Alma Ata are ‘still relevant’ was a hotly debated topic at the biennial gathering of the Health Systems Global community in Liverpool. Just weeks later in Astana, yet another global gathering of health folks marked the anniversary with a reaffirmation of ‘the fundamental right of every human being to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without distinction of any kind’. In ten years time we will mark it again, using the moment to consider what progress has been made (or not) towards this grand goal of a universal human right to health. Why this third date? Why July 2004?

We shall experiment, but how shall we learn?: Next steps for research on innovation in China’s health and social policy

Some years ago, Tony Saich likened doing research on local government in China to the story of the blind men and the elephant – the complexity of China, and the differences between places, mean that different people experience different things, and describe different realities. China has always provided avenues for interesting research. Many of the debates that Tony Saich was reflecting on were around China’s rapid industrialisation, development of markets, and the ways in which local governments steered reforms. Fifteen years on, while the debates have progressed and the amount of research and analysis on China has increased dramatically, some of the fundamental questions remain.

Including marginalised people in ‘people centred health systems’

At the upcoming Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, we will be running a participatory session that builds on research from Uganda, Bangladesh and Nepal, entitled Amplifying Marginalised Voices: Towards Meaningful Inclusion in Social Accountability Mechanisms for Health. This session applies an intersectional lens to accountability mechanisms, asking about the inclusion of specific, marginalised categories within communities in mainstream accountability initiatives.

Tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in pluralistic health systems

There is growing scientific evidence that infections that are resistant to antibiotics are a serious global health challenge. This has stimulated wide agreement on a Global Action Plan for Addressing AMR and many countries have produced National Action Plans. It is important that these action plans take into account the local context. This is especially important in countries with a pluralistic health system in which people seek health care from a wide variety of public and private providers of drugs and medical care. One lesson from the work of the Future Health Systems Consortium is the need to take a systems approach for tackling health challenges in these countries. This blog highlights some priority issues that this kind of approach needs to take into account.

40 years since Alma Ata: It's back to the future for Health for All

Quite a lot has changed in the last 40 years, right? And yet, four decades since the 1978 signing of the international Alma Ata declaration in Almaty, Kazakhstan, meeting the essential health needs of people through primary health care has once again been highlighted as the key to the attainment of Health for All by a ‘new’ global movement.