Announcing the theme for the Sixth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research (HSR2020)

17 May, 2019

[The message below is forwarded from the Health Systems Global CHW Thematic Working Group]

HSR2020: re-imagining health systems for better health and social justice

We are pleased to announce the theme and sub-themes for the Sixth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Dubai in November 2020:

“Re-imagining health systems for better health and social justice”

Ten years on from the first Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, health systems around the world are still far from achieving the Sustainable Development Goal to “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”.

They remain predominantly sick care systems - disconnected from the broader upstream forces influencing health. A fundamental paradigm shift is needed if health systems are to be equipped to address complex and interconnected health and development challenges.

The Sixth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research (HSR2020) will seek to break old silos and re-orient health systems to address public health and engage the political, social, and environmental forces that perpetuate health inequities and social injustices. It will explore how technological, data and social innovations can address these challenges, and how health systems research can support essential transformations in health systems.

HSR2020 will be a catalytic platform for sharing knowledge and experiences, raising awareness and advocating for change, building capacity, and developing partnerships for action.

Whether you work in policy, practice, research, advocacy or education; whether you are concerned about health systems, humanitarian health, social protection, environmental sustainability and climate change, data science, ethics, political economy, social science, media or more, we invite you to join us to learn, share, and inform the transformation of health systems.

HSR2020 will explore the following sub-themes:

Sub-theme 1: Engaging political forces

Power and politics affect all actors and dimensions of health systems, influencing policy prioritization, resource distribution, accessibility and affordability of care, quality of services, gender equality and other forms of marginalization, as well as research institutions themselves. Corruption further increases inequality, impoverishes populations, and slows progress towards achieving Universal Health Coverage, particularly among the most vulnerable people. Faced with the spread of polarizing ideologies, tighter borders, growing health disparities, and unregulated commercial interests, analyzing and addressing power, politics and corruption in health systems is critical to tackling the underlying causes of health inequities. We must create the conditions to promote accountability and enable stronger social voice to challenge existing power relations and address corruption. In addition, health system stewardship must be strengthened through timely collation of information, building strategic multi-sectoral partnerships, and deploying evidence to inform decisions and actions.

Sub-theme 2: Engaging social, economic and environmental forces

Leaving no one behind requires that health systems engage with the social, economic and environmental forces that shape who has the resources to be healthy, including access to health services and the quality of these services. While the need to act on these broader forces is increasingly recognized as essential to reduce health disparities and promote health equity across the population, the challenges associated with migration, state fragility, conflict, urbanization and climate change remain largely overlooked by the health system community.

Sub-theme 3: Engaging technological, data and social innovations

The rapid emergence of new technology, artificial intelligence and big data brings new opportunities and challenges to combat the growing burden of complex chronic disease and health inequity. Despite the profound changes taking place, healthcare delivery models have changed little in the last 50 years. Leveraging innovations can enable health systems to make rapid progress in expanding access to quality and affordable care by redefining how people, systems and information interact. Innovations may be technological, data-driven or social, encompassing new products, services, models or markets - ultimately seeking to identify new and more effective ways of solving problems that are scalable. We will both explore specific health system innovations, and consider the innovation environment, including the regulatory and policy environment needed to promote equity and ensure that innovations benefit the most vulnerable.

HSR2020’s website will launch by August 2019 along with an expanded version of the theme and sub-themes. Calls for abstracts for individual presentations and organized sessions will open on 12 September 2019 via the HSR2020 website. The deadline for organized session submissions will be 14 November 2019. The final date for individual abstracts to be submitted will be 6 February 2020.

Please look out for more news about HSR2020 on the HSG website [], email newsletter, and social media (#HSR2020).

Fadi El-Jardali and Sara Bennett

HSR2020 Program Working Group Co-Chairs