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Strengthening Health Systems in Southern Africa 1992-2007 - HST Conference Report 2007
HST Conference: 10-11 October 2007, Indaba Hotel, Fourways, Johannesburg
The 2007 HST Conference, Strengthening Health Systems in Southern Africa 1992-2007, provided a platform for a critical review of HSTs contribution to health research utilization in policy making and an understanding of information use to inform management decisions, to improve the quality of health service delivery. The conference also highlighted the challenges to equitable access to health services by poor and rural communities.
One of the key messages from the conference was that gaps still exist between available research information, which could improve health outcomes and the responsiveness of health systems. It is therefore crucial that health research information be used by managers and policy makers, to inform strategic policy decisions.
Furthermore, the conference served as an ideal place for decision makers and researchers to share and discuss innovative ways for provision of health care services, which have a high impact in addressing the health needs of the poor. Policy makers, managers and community based organisations used the conference to explore new ways to generating health resources to meet increasing demands on the health system and population health needs. They also explored innovative approaches of priority setting for allocating scarce resources to achieve equitable financing of health care.
HST considers the hosting of the conference as a step to serving key strategic objectives that are aimed at achieving a high level of research information utilization by our stakeholders and decision makers. HST believes the opportunity provided at the conference offered a platform for stakeholders to debate and explore innovative ways of improving the availability of policy relevant information, to support policy makers in strategic decision making on policy, planning and advocacy for the health sector, as well as for informing debate challenges for decision making in choosing optimal options for resource allocation.
Many of the conference presentations addressed different aspects of a programme cycle, from initial design to improvement, to scale-up, coverage and sustainability issues. The conference provided an ideal setting for managers and expert technical advisors to share information on best practices and to identify challenges in programme management as well as in operation decisions related to administrative, fi nancial and logistic factors that affected the success of programmes.
In 2008, HST is looking forward to future conference agendas, which will examine and evaluate the critical role of HSTs research contribution and relevance to policy issues and how health systems research could help bring new issues onto the national health agenda.
HST aims to explore key questions on how research is being effectively brought to the attention of policy makers, managers and practitioners, to support their decisions for policy, programmes and practices. Furthermore, HST will investigate barriers that are faced by policy makers and managers in absorbing research fi ndings. HST is therefore well positioned to identify optimal situations where policy makers are willing and able to use information to improve the quality of their policy, planning and advocacy decisions and how managers will use this information to improve programmes, program management and operation decisions to achieve health for all in southern Africa.