HAR6049: Using Policy to Strengthen Health Systems (online)


Introduction

This module seeks to build on students’ own experiences and knowledge of health policy and health systems. Over the course of the module, students will work individually and also in small groups to develop a critical understanding of health policy and particular health systems, and to develop ideas and proposals about how these health systems can be strengthened – and who might benefit or not benefit. These improvements can be targeted at any combination of the regional, national, district, and community level.

In this module, policy is understood in a broad way, as courses of action and inaction which shape health systems, and health systems are understood both as broad public health systems (including the social determinants of health), and as particular forms of organisation of health care (both formal and informal). The module is suitable for students with broad health and health care understanding, but also for those with more limited knowledge and experience of health systems.

Objectives

The module aims to:

  • Provide students with the critical skills to analyse and understand the underpinning social, economic and political contexts of policies that effect health, and the factors that influence their development and impact in specific health system contexts.
  • Provide critical insight into current strengthening health system policy initiatives.
  • Develop a critical appreciation of how health systems particular contexts might be strengthened.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Assess the current major policy issues facing health systems in different national and local contexts.
  • Identify and critically evaluate how different factors (historical, social, economic, financial, technological and political) shape and influence policies and health system development at global, national and sub-national levels.
  • Assess the main actors involved in health policy processes at global, national and sub-national levels.
  • Identify current policy initiatives related to health systems strengthening and critically analyse how particular groups or people may (or may not) benefit from that strengthening.
  • Suggest and explain ways in which health systems may be changed and improved through different policy measures at global, national and sub-national levels.

Teaching Methods

This module is taught and studied completely online. The teaching of this module will be conducted online through the MOLE platform. Students will have ready access to the module leader and course tutor throughout the module to facilitate distance learning.

The introductory material for each stage of the module will be lecturer-led, with various different teaching activities (guided reading, online presentations), but will also involve online asynchronous group-based discussion. Each student needs to be prepared to take charge of their own learning.

The students will identify and develop particular case studies based on their own knowledge and experience, with support and guidance from tutors and fellow students. The tutors will introduce particular and appropriate policy initiatives, discourses and models relating to strengthening health systems, which the students will investigate and research further. Students will work both in online groups and individually to develop their understanding.

Assessment details

Assessment 1 (20% of total mark) will be based on group work and will involve each student working in a group on a policy topic in a specific health system context. The assessment is designed to appraise how well student can: 1) identify the key factors that have shaped health policy and system development; 2) critically analyse the implications for a particular aspect of health (to be specified by the tutor); 3) detail and appraise potential policy options that could address the health system issue.

Assessment 2 (80% of the total mark) will be a 2000 word essay which provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate that they can identify issues facing a health system in a particular national or local context, critically evaluate policy options to address health system issues and explain ways in which health systems may be changed and improved through different policy measures.

The pass mark is 50%