Dear Colleagues,
Last week all of us attended the first global symposium on health systems research in Montreux, so we were not able to send out our weekly newsletter. In fact, some of us were still recovering from a decadent night. This week we’ll make up for that, by sending out two newsletters! One today, with a few journal articles published in the run-up to the symposium and some early evaluations of the symposium itself, another one this Friday on other relevant global health policy news, which obviously includes the just published WHO annual health report on UHC.
In this newsletter, we would especially like to draw attention to our Emerging Voices, who really made a blast at the symposium, in parallel sessions and plenary sessions alike. Check out their innovative Pecha Kucha presentation, given in the final plenary session. Lalit, Aïda and Wilfred represented the other Emerging voices with a short but powerful message. There was a whiff of Obama magic in the air. (Alternative link here)
Some of the Emerging Voices already evaluated the symposium and the last three weeks of mentoring in blog posts, others already published viewpoints and articles. But most are probably just getting of the plane. From now on, we’ll have a regular section on Emerging voices in our newsletter and on the blog.
Finally, in this newsletter, we also include some blogging Voices from the North on the Symposium.
David Hercot, Kristof Decoster, Josefien Van Olmen, Basile Keugong & Wim Van Damme

Run-up to Montreux Symposium

1.Lancet (online) – Universal Health Coverage: friend or foe of health equity ?

Gwatkin and Ergo call for an approach called progressive universalism, to make sure that UHC boosts health equity.

2.Lancet (online) – The growing movement for universal health coverage

An “all-star” group of global health scholars sketch the growing movement for universal health coverage. “Supported by an enhanced evidence-base, increased technical assistance, and greater experience sharing across countries, universal health coverage is emerging as an actionable, practical, and timely goal for countries aspiring to strengthen the foundations of their health systems.”

3.Lancet – The Lancet/Global Forum essay competition winners 2010

In Montreux, The Lancet and the Global Forum for Health Research also announced the winners of their joint essay competition. The competition was run in collaboration with the first Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, and the theme was “Health-systems research: towards universal health coverage”. You can find the Young voices’ essays on the Lancet website, as well as in a recently published booklet.

4.Plos Medicine – Defining research to improve health systems

Robert Terry and colleagues present working definitions of operational research, implementation research, and health systems research within the context of research to strengthen health systems.

Emerging voices and voices from the South on the Symposium

Our Emerging voices appeared in three sessions in Montreux: a satellite session on Monday, a lunch session on Thursday, and also in the final plenary session, just after a Lancet Young Voice from Chile. Here are the links to how they assess the last three weeks and the Symposium. So far we have received blog posts from several of them, with probably more to come in the days ahead.
Shishir Dahal (Nepal), Jenny Mabel Carabali (Columbia), Walter Flores (Guatemala), Anar Ulikpan (Mongolia), Morris Kouamé (Senegal), Meena Daivadanam (India)… all sent us their impressions. Omesh Bharti (India) even forwarded us a poetry booklet he wrote himself  (temporarily available here).
Theophane Bukele (DRC) was mentioned on the KFF digest (on the symposium).
Another voice from the South ( but not one of our Emerging voices), Peter Waiswa from Makerere University, pleaded forcefully for better listening to the people who live in the health systems studied.
There are also already a few publications by EVs we want to hightlight here:
Victoria Kajja (Uganda) had a viewpointpublished in the Uganda Daily Monitor, on taking the HIV/AIDS awareness message to young people.
Lungiswa Nkonki (South-Africa) already got an articlepublished in the International Breastfeeding Journal. “Selling a service: experiences of peer supporters while promoting exclusive infant feeding in three sites in South Africa.” It could be of interest for those working with lay health workers or Community health workers.
In the coming months, we will try to guide more of them towards publication in a peer reviewed journal.

Voices from the North on the Symposium

The Symposium was not just an opportunity for listening to state of the art presentations, networking with the global health “Who is who”, and fancy dinners in sleazy settings. Many people also blogged on the event. There were for example blog posts by Nandini Oomman, here and here, on whether health systems research can be sexy, and whether research can make HSS sexy; by Karen Grepin, on the long and bumpy road to universal coverage  (see also here ), by Save the Children UK, with a couple of interesting posts, and by Kate Hawkins and others on the Future Health Systems consortium blog. Finally, David Hercot shared his views on the abuse of Scaling up terminology.

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