The Program in Global Health Policy and Social Change has seven distinct programmatic areas tailored to engage key policy making communities including government health sector leaders, security agencies, the diplomatic corps, and the private sector. These seven foci produce research, develop training and education programs, and advance policy recommendations in partnership with other Harvard schools, outside institutions, and practitioners in the field.
Threatened Health Systems
Weak health systems, most often found in fragile or conflict-affected states, pose serious threats to global security and socioeconomic and political stability. Frequently called “the first lines of defense” against global health security threats like pandemics, functioning health systems are a prerequisite to protecting against instability and restoring peace to conflict-prone regions. The Threatened Health Systems Project aims to advance policy recommendations related to supporting health systems through periods of crisis and recovery. Through our, First Line of Defense project, we will develop indicators of health system stress and disruption that can be utilized by health and non-health actors and policymakers to recognize fragile health systems or protect and recover these systems during periods of crisis. These include metrics related to health system governance, workforce, financing, infrastructure, organization, and legitimacy. In addition to assisting health and security actors, the IoDs will be used to help peace negotiators, global financial institutions, and international security forces anticipate health sector needs to ensure that resources are available to protect and/or restore depleted health systems. In particular, the IoDs will provide important operational planning guidelines for military and security responders to ensure that valuable health system assets are protected during times of crisis and conflict. Accompanying guides, tailored for peace negotiators, health development aid agencies, and global financial institutions will also be developed.
Global Health Security
The Global Health Security program focuses on the policy response of the security community to health threats such as pandemics, bioterrorism, cyber threats to global health data, mass migration, and climate change. Work to date has critically examined military responses to pandemics and other catastrophic health events and how they can further exacerbate health emergencies in the absence of an understanding of the complex social and political dynamics such as in Ebola in West Africa in 2014. A second initiative is examining the vulnerability of cybersecurity and digital health intelligence systems and how health leaders can mitigate these threats, from policies that promote cybersecurity to social and rights-based strategies to strengthen the trust of populations in their health institutions and leadership. Using these types of case examples, the research and case development model creates educational and training opportunities for security policymakers and military leadership to collaborate with health sector leaders on health emergency prevention and response.
Leadership and Global Health Diplomacy
Political leadership and diplomacy skills are a prerequisite to shaping global health policy. The Leadership and Global Health Diplomacy program aims to develop the leadership talent required to oversee peaceful solutions to successful intervention and management of complex health crises. Building trust among all stakeholders is at the center of peaceful negotiations in conflict settings and environments of chronic political crisis. Our research in this arena focuses on the governance of health systems in conflict-affected states and how broad economic and power-sharing policies promoted by peace negotiators affect the organization, legitimacy, and effectiveness of these health systems. Additionally, it examines the relationship between health system governance and the cultivation of trust in health institutions and leadership. Through this initiative, we aim to bring together diplomatic corps, peace negotiators, heads of government, humanitarian responders, international donors and, most significantly, local community actors.
Partnerships for Health
Advancing and maintaining global health for the next century requires collaborative innovation both for new therapeutics and delivery mechanisms, as well as to invest in necessary but oft ignored infrastructure. The Partnerships for Health initiative provides a mechanism to focus on both.
This initiative will consider the challenges of the cutting edge: for example, structuring innovation pipelines to incentivize investments in pressing health issues such as vaccine development or antimicrobial resistance, while ensuring the safety of interventions emerging from biotech research such as artificial intelligence and gene editing, or for example, to ensure policy and regulation are not outpaced by the acceleration and advancement of bioscience. The Program in Global Health Policy and Social Change aims to work with pharmaceutical companies, academic partners, and policy makers to help advance and protect the critical goals of developing new bio technology. The Program in Global Health Policy and Social Change is engaging in strong, innovative partnerships with governments, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector for capacity building and education.
Health Systems Nexus
This initiative aims to make deep, long term investments in health system strengthening in some of the most hard-hit settings. Partnering with Seed Global Health, the initiative is building the evidence base and platform for large scale investment in human resources for health and health systems in sub-Saharan Africa. It brings to focus the powerful nexus health plays for achieving other important wellbeing goals and provides evidence-based advocacy around health as prerequisite for economic growth, national security, good governance and other important outcomes. Engaging the power of people to create long-term and durable improvements to health systems, as well as create jobs, fuel economies and provide frontline protection against pandemics and other vulnerabilities, this collaboration is both a research and implementation effort partnered with five countries to date.
Intergovernmental Partnerships for Health
Foreign aid has traditionally been provided in patriarchal models or with constrictions that limit its effectiveness. Equally, development projects have often been isolated from similar efforts in recipient countries. Understanding and promoting new models for aid delivery, capacity building, and development that enhance national sovereignty and growth are essential.
Partnership Medical Centers as Leaders in Global Health Policy and Advocacy
Defined by its research, evidenced-based decision process, and excellence in health care delivery, academic medicine is well-situated to develop strong, innovative partnerships with nongovernmental organizations and governments for capacity building and educational efforts in partner sites abroad. These strengths and traditions of academic medicine can help reshape the growing, inefficient, and costly reliance of governments and ministries on outsourcing to private contractors for building capacity and health care delivery.