The 5th Global
Symposium on
Health Systems

Liverpool, UK
8 -12 October 2018

Take a look back at HSR2022

The 5th Global Symposium advanced conversations and collaborations on new ways of financing health, delivering services, and engaging the health workforce. It discussed new social and political alliances, and new applications of technologies to promote health for all.


Browse through all the photos from HSR2018 via the HSR Flickr page.

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Executive summary

The Fifth Global Symposium advanced conversations and collaborations on new ways of financing health, delivering services, and engaging the health workforce. It discussed new social and political alliances, and new applications of technologies to promote health for all.

The Fifth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research was held  (HSR2018) in Liverpool, UK (October 2018), it brought together 2247 actors involved in health systems and policy research and practice from more than 125 countries.

The key objectives of HSR2018 included:

  • Assure inclusiveness and connect diverse stakeholders (researchers, policy makers,
    program managers, advocates, community organizations, media representatives)
    from different geographic regions, country income groups and language backgrounds
  • Facilitate equitable knowledge acquisition and dissemination around health policy
    and systems research
  • Disseminate HSR methods including methods for knowledge translation
  • Support capacity-building for the conduct, translation and utilization of health policy
    and systems research.

Finding 1

Overall: HSR2018 fully or partially met the expectations of 95% of surveyed delegates. The symposium was successful in providing a platform for professionals in health systems research to learn, exchange views and develop their professional networks. Feedback on the symposium from both the survey and the interviews indicates that delegates were generally very satisfied with the content of HSR2018 and the opportunities to network and learn. Concerns were linked mainly to the high number (126) of sessions, some overlapping and difficulty to access due to overcrowding.

Finding 2

Promotion of inclusiveness and connectivity: HSR2018 was a diverse symposium with a balanced representation from high income countries (HICs) and low- to middle-income countries (LMICs), both as delegates and presenters. The balance between North and South views was perceived more positively by HICs than by LMICs. The high value of the symposium for networking was confirmed by delegates in their responses and increased from HSR2016.

Finding 3

Equitable knowledge acquisition and dissemination: HSR2018 was successful in facilitating knowledge acquisition and dissemination around health policy and systems research. It demonstrated a shift in the balance with more acquisition from LMIC delegates compared to HIC delegates. Obstacles in knowledge acquisition identified during the HSR2018 were linked mostly to the inability of delegates to access some sessions due to overcrowding and/or sessions running in parallel.

Finding 4

Dissemination of health systems research methods including knowledge translation: One third of HSR2018 session profiled research methods or knowledge translation. Delegates prioritized gaining new knowledge from research findings and networking over learning of research methods and knowledge translation approaches. HSR2018 did have a potential positive impact on changing the use of research methods and knowledge translation, most notably with delegates from LMIC countries.

Finding 5

Capacity-building for health policy and systems research: HSR2018 supported delegates in building their capacity for health policy and systems research. The symposium was strong in building networks for participants and supporting them in facing challenges and using and disseminating research findings and methods. Capacity building was markedly stronger for delegates from LMIC, notably in the use of research methods and state-of-the-art tools and resources.

Finding 6

Organization and communications of HSR2018: HSR2018 was well organized in general with positive feedback from delegates on all aspects from registration to the venue set-up, with the main critical comment being on the quality and type of food offered. The conference App was seen as under-performing, but communications provided considerable visibility to the symposium, through its website and on social media.

Overall, HSR2018 was very successful in contributing to the key objectives of HSG. HSR2018 was an inclusive and diverse symposium that facilitated equitable knowledge acquisition, notably for delegates from LMIC. The greatest value for delegates was the opportunities to learn and network. The organizational aspects were also largely appreciated, both online and on-site.

Conclusion 1

HSR2018 was an inclusive event. It provided a strong platform for networking for delegates of diverse backgrounds. Delegates from LMIC were consistently more satisfied than delegates from HIC although overall satisfaction was high. At the same time, there was a suggestion from LMIC delegates for an even stronger representation from the South.

Recommendation 1

Consider strategies to increase the participation of representatives from the South, particularly in high-profile sessions/formats

Conclusion 2

HSR2018 was strong in the networking opportunities it provided delegates and this was a real added value for them. Delegates sought even further expanding opportunities for networking. Further skills-building sessions were also requested.

Recommendation 2

Consider placing networking more centrally in the HRS2020 program in terms of venue set-up and time/sessions that facilitate networking. Consider increasing the number of skills-building sessions.

Conclusion 3

HSR2018 was challenging for delegates in the competing parallel sessions and the difficult to attend all sessions of interest due to program clashes and overcrowding. The program may have to be re-thought in terms of the number of sessions and more pre-planning done on possible attendance numbers for adequate space booking. Providing more in-depth information on sessions may also ease the difficult choices of delegates.

Recommendation 3

Consider how the program could be further streamlined, and program clashes of similar topics avoided where possible (consider thematic threads that follow sequentially verses pitching same topics at the same time); provide more information of sessions if possible; consider introducing pre-booking for some sessions.

Conclusion 4

HSR2018 was very successful in providing knowledge from research findings – it was less successful in reaching its objective of disseminated health systems research methods including methods for knowledge translation. It may have to be recognized that this is a secondary priority for future symposia or if it remains an equal priority, extra effort made to adapt program content to better match this objective.

Recommendation 4

For future symposia, determine if disseminating health systems methods and knowledge translation is an equal or secondary priority; adapt the program content accordingly.

Conclusion 5

Both HSR2016 and HSR2018 were very successful in building the capacity of LMIC delegates for their potential use of the methods and knowledge from the symposium. At the same time, it was much less successful in doing the same for HIC delegates. It has to be reflected upon if capacity building on the use of methods and knowledge for HIC delegates is a secondary priority for HSG.

Recommendation 5

Explicitly prioritize delegates from LMIC for capacity building activities, if this is acceptable for HSG and would not infringe on equity aspirations. If not, then consider how better to support capacity building for HIC delegates in this respect.

Conclusion 6

HSR2018 was well prepared and organized, based on the feedback of the delegates and the observations by this evaluation team. The communications before and during the symposium increased considerably its visibility and extended its potential reach. At the same time, two main obstacles were identified that affected the experience of delegates; the quality of the food offered and the under-performing event App.

Recommendation 6

To ensure a successful HSR2020, consider the following: adapt and capitalize on the social media potential of the symposium as done for HSR2018: ensure that the food offered is adequate, healthy and culturally sensitive; and develop/source a new event App that works better and allows delegates to connect and network virtually.