The Global Symposia on Health Systems Research is organized every two years by Health Systems Global to bring together the full range of players involved in health systems and policy research and practice. Beginning with the First Global Symposium in Montreux in 2010, the Symposia have played a crucial, catalytic role in convening a global community dedicated to strengthening health systems and building the field of health systems research.

The First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research was organized as the result of a growing awareness among politicians, policy-makers, healthcare providers and researchers that the evidence base to support the theory and practice of strengthening health systems is not strong, especially in low-and middle-income countries. Moreover, the scientific foundations for this type of research are in need of significant development and improvement. The Symposium was dedicated to improving the scientific evidence needed by health policy-makers and practitioners to inform their decisions related to accelerating universal health coverage.

The specific objectives of the Symposium were to:

  • share state-of-the art research on universal health coverage;
  • develop a global agenda of priority research on accelerating progress towards universal health coverage;
  • facilitate greater research collaboration and learning communities across disciplines, sectors, initiatives and countries;
  • strengthen the scientific rigor of the field of health systems research, including concepts, frameworks, measures and methods;
  • identify mechanisms for strengthening capacities – individual, institutional and infrastructural – for research on health systems, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

The Montreux Symposium attracted over 1,200 participants from more than 100 countries and produced a clear message about what, how and why health systems research should be strengthened to contribute to universal health coverage.

Based on the success of the First Global Symposium, the Second Global Symposium on Health Systems Research was organized in Beijing on 31 October – 3 November 2012. The second Symposium built on the discussions around UHC from the first symposium, particularly focusing on inclusion and innovation. It also placed thematic emphasis on knowledge translation, state-of-the-art research on health systems and HSR methodologies. During this Symposium, Health Systems Global was established a society to help build a global constituency dedicated to promoting health systems research globally, with particular focus on low- and middle-income countries.

The Third Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, held in Cape Town on 30 September – 3 October 2014, was organized around the theme of people-centred health systems. It further solidified the focus on approaches to health systems research, capacity building of researchers, policy-makers, practitioners and civil society to conduct and use health systems research and strengthening learning communities and knowledge translation.

The Fourth Global Symposium will build on this rich history, further developing the global health systems research and practice community and unleashing their collective capacity to create, share and apply knowledge to strengthen health systems.

Registration for the fourth global symposium is available here.