This blog by Lynda Keeru reports on the launch of the Alliance flagship report on learning health systems. During the webinar, participants heard an overview of the report, comments from a people who put together the report, as well as the thoughts of an esteemed panel on the report.
Reflections of the flagship report
During his introductory remarks, David Peters said that the report pushes forward the field of health systems strengthening and health policy research. He noted that it focused on the core ideas of cognition, action and learning. The report emphasizes the underlying role of learning at individual, organizational, cross-organizational levels within systems and explains how critical it is. It highlights learning in its multiplicity of meanings, and it helps its audience to understand what is needed for health systems to be effective, pursue goals of equity and to be sustainable.
There is greater appreciation for the need to strengthen health systems, including those in crisis situations. However, there is still a lot to learn about how to strengthen them and there are no magic bullets. Over the decades, descriptive frameworks have been developed culminating in complex adaptive systems approaches. This is coupled with a focus on resilience and how health systems can bounce back from stressors such as pandemics and disasters (both economic and social). However, for many health systems, bouncing back to an equilibrium is not good enough. Many are low performing; which means that they are either inequitable, of poor quality or they are unaccountable.
This report is therefore vital as it provides lessons on how to improve the performance, growth and sustainability of health systems. It places emphasis on continued learning and actions as a means of developing stronger, more effective, equitable and accountable systems that continue evolving.
Soumya Swaminathan explained that the report comes at a critical time for health systems all over the world because of the impact of the pandemic. The emergency response has given birth to many innovations. The reason this report is crucial is that it explains how a learning health system should use data from the field and the skills of epidemiologists, clinicians, public health experts and data scientists. A learning health system also listens to voices of people from the community and takes all those inputs into constantly trying to improve and deliver programs in a more impactful way.
Prof. David Peters-Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Irene Agyepong-Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons
Soumya Swaminathan-Chief Scientist, WHO
Kabir Sheikh-Policy Advisor, WHO
Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu- Director General, Nigeria Center for Disease Control
Dr. Leslie Rollock-Ministry of Health and Wellness, Barbados
Dr. Wuleta Lemma-Wollo University
Dr. Seye Abimbola-University of Sydney