Partners’ HPSR report – 2021

Partners’ health policy and
systems research report


The Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (the Alliance) has forged strong partnerships for more than 20 years, working closely with more than 350 research, policy and teaching organizations to support knowledge generation, capacity strengthening and research uptake. Partnerships are at the foundation of the Alliance and lie at the very heart of HPSR. Each partnership brings its own unique insights, approaches and histories to the field.

In January 2021, the Alliance embarked on a collaborative and collective process with some of its partners to collectively develop an annual account of national-level HPSR production in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)*. Partners recognized as experienced leaders and experts in HPSR – and particularly those with a track record of capacity strengthening to generate policy-relevant research and/or engagement in evidence-informed decision-making – joined to co-author the Report.

In all, 16 country teams across all six WHO regions (Africa, Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asia, Western Pacific, Americas and Europe), and two global HPSR entities were involved in the development of this work. The result – this 2021 Partners’ HPSR Report – gives insights into the development and evolution of HPSR in various LMICs, and advocates for far greater investments in HPSR, particularly at country-level. The Report reflects the complex and varied nature of HPSR across a diversity of countries, highlighting the different ways that HPSR is organized around the world.


The Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR) is pleased to present this 2021 Partners’ HPSR Report, a collaborative resource developed with its partners, recognized and respected leaders in HPSR from across the world. This Report set forth to present a picture of HPSR knowledge generation, academic and institutional capacity, policy and public engagement, and HPSR financing in a selection of countries. The Report acknowledges the difficulties in defining indicators to measure HPSR at national level, and the challenges of data accessibility, and in many cases, the complete absence of any data at all. Indeed, one of the main conclusions of this Report is the great need to strengthen data measures to more robustly measure progress on HPSR.

We remain optimistic, however, at the prospects for the refinement of these measures in the coming years – and we present this as a digital Report, therefore, as a way to facilitate regular updates. By attempting to set an empirical basis for advocacy around much-needed investments in HPSR, the Partners’ HPSR Report aims to become a critical tool for governments and global donors for the measurement of HPSR growth within countries.

The Report reflects the core of the Alliance’s mission. Since its founding in 1997, in response to recommendations of the WHO Ad Hoc Committee on Health Research, the Alliance has promoted the generation and use of HPSR as a way to strengthen the health systems of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). It has supported the field of HPSR as the field has undergone dramatic evolution, with the number of publications focused on HPSR increasing by 375% between 1990 and 2015.  Significantly, researchers from LMICs account for a growing share of lead authors of HPSR publications. These are achievements that merit collective celebration.

The sustainability of domestic financing for HPSR, however, remains a concern. Increases have been seen in global donor commitments to HPSR, and donor support continues to play a crucial role in HPSR financing. It is not yet clear, however, whether such funding can or will be sustained in a new global context of economies hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, as a proportionate share of domestic financing, HPSR funding has remained negligible in several LMICs.

This Report aims to show what can and is being done at national level to strengthen how countries are organized for HPSR, providing a snapshot of innovation and commitment by a diverse range of institutions spanning government agencies, academia, think tanks and more. Given the clear need for collective action, we would welcome many more institutions to join these efforts in future years.

Abdul Ghaffar,
Executive Director, Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research

* Trinidad and Tobago is included in this report, but is not an LMIC – rather it is considered a high-income developing country.

Credits and disclaimers

Partners’ health policy and systems research report, 2021


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The Partners’ HPSR Report 2021 was written by:

Country profiles (listed alphabetically, by country name):

Cambodia: Chhorvann Chhea, Sovky Ma (National Institutes of Public Health, Ministry of Health); China: Qingyue Meng, Ping He (China Centre for Health Development Studies, Peking University); Colombia: Rolando Enrique Peñaloza Quintero (Instituto de Salud Pública, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana); Ethiopia: Binyam Tilahun (University of Gondar); Georgia: George Gotzadze, Maia Uchaneishvili (Curatio International Foundation); Ghana: Matilda Aberese-Ako, Robert Kaba Alhassan,  Margaret Gyapong (University of Health and Allied Science); Indonesia: Shita Dewi (Centre for Health Policy and Management, Faculty of Medicine, Public Health and Nursing, Universitas Gadjah Madas); Lebanon: Fadi El-Jardali, Racha Fadlallah (Knowledge to Policy Centre, American University of Beirut); Mexico: Miguel González-Block (Universidad Anáhuac); Niger: Aïssa Diarra (Laboratoire d’Études et de Recherches sur les Dynamiques Sociales et le Developpement Local (LASDEL)); Pakistan: Maryam Huda, Sameen Siddiqi  (Aga Khan University); Philippines: Katherine Ann Reyes, Alfredo Jose Ballesteros, Jeremiah Serrano (Department of Health Policy and Administration, College of Public Health, University of the Philippines Manila); South Africa: Lucy Gilson, Melisa Smuts (Health Policy and Systems Division, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town); Trinidad and Tobago: Andrea Yearwood (Independent); Uganda: Rhodah Wanyenze, Aloysius Ssennyonjo, Rebecca Nuwematsiko (School of Public Health, Makerere University); Viet  Nam: Bui Thi Thu Ha (Hanoi University of Public Health).

Global HPSR entities (listed alphabetically, by entity name):

Health Systems Global: Barbara McPake, Adnan Hyder, Tolib Mirzoev, Eva Slawecki; Results for Development, Health Systems Strengthening Accelerator: Nathan Blanchet, Amanda Folsom, Kavita Hatipoglu, Nkem Wellington, Gina Lagomarsino.

A team from the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research helped to coordinate data collection, write, edit and design the digital Report. Team members included: Aku Kwamie, Jeffrey Knezovich, Livia Dal Zennaro and Abdul Ghaffar.

The authors are grateful to the country institutions and ministries of health for their assistance in providing information and for their invaluable comments and contributions to the development of this Report.

Special thanks are extended to Angela Hawke for writing and editorial assistance.