Looking back to move forward: Reflections from the Health Policy and Systems Research Conference - 20 Years On
Amanda Edwards, Anne Mills and Lucy Gilson at the conference in Stockholm, Sweden
It was my enormous privilege to attend the 20th anniversary of the formation of the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (AHPSR). Hosted by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the conference was attended by a broad range of health policy and systems research (HPSR) stakeholders, including a number of multinational funding agencies and researchers from around the globe.
The event was held in Stockholm, Sweden, where the Alliance was established in 1997. The conference served as an important milestone for the Alliance, allowing the opportunity to reflect on the successes and challenges of the last 20 years, and to develop plans and strategies for meeting the ambitious goals of Agenda 2030 in a global health climate that is increasingly complex and unpredictable.
I was invited to attend the conference as the representative of the writing team awarded first prize in the first AHPSR essay competition on the “Future of Health Policy and Systems Research.” The paper, written in collaboration with fellow students* in the Masters in Public Health at the University of Cape Town, sought to describe the challenges faced by global health policy and systems researchers, and explore the potential and possibilities for the Alliance and the field of HPSR from a Southern perspective. The theme of the essay allowed us to explore issues we felt passionate about, and explicate these issues from our own perspective. Little did we realise that these ideas would resonate so deeply with members of the Alliance. I was invited to present the essay in the opening plenary of the conference, alongside HPSR pioneer, Dame Anne Mills.
In this blog, I offer some personal reflections on the experience, and draw out key issues arising from these two days of intensive, reflexive and engaging debate.