From 14-18 November, WHF Policy and Advocacy Manager Joanna Markbreiter participated in the Fourth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Vancouver, Canada. This year’s symposium was on the theme of ‘Resilient and responsive health systems for a changing world’ and brought together over 2,000 delegates from 101 countries.
The theme of resilience comes at a particularly relevant time, as the world has experienced several shocks to the healthcare system. The Ebola epidemic, the Zika virus and the refugee crisis are all examples of global concerns with significant health ramifications. Speakers emphasised the critical lessons to be learnt from recent health emergencies and the need to keep people at the centre of health systems.
Compared to other topics, NCDs were not heavily discussed. Joanna delivered an intervention on behalf of WHF on the lack of NCD and CVD representation in the programme. However, the conversations around NCDs that did occur provided meaningful insights. A highlight included one session on NCD control which used various frameworks to examine health financing for NCDs, public private mix approaches, and the impact of NCD policies.
On behalf of WHF and RHD Action, Joanna presented an e-Poster on the topic of integration of rheumatic heart disease in universal health coverage. The poster argues the need for integration and provides 6 Key Messages and 6 Key Actions for achieving meaningful impact, which can be found in the related policy brief here.
Overall, the symposium showcased the importance of applying academic health systems research to programmatic work in the field. In an increasingly turbulent world, health systems must increase their ambition and remit and become proactive rather than reactive in order to achieve meaningful outcomes. Dialogues such as the Health Systems Research symposium are key to moving to discovering and addressing health systems vulnerabilities, which impact all diseases, including CVD.