Advancing Knowledge and Practice to Systems Thinking to Strengthen Equity in Health Systems

Many global efforts to address health issues in low- and middle-income countries have focused on individual diseases or treatment approaches. Extensive resources, for example, have been devoted to combatting HIV/AIDS, or increasing vaccination rates for common childhood diseases. But improving health outcomes for the poor ultimately depends on strong health systems. Strengthening these systems demands that donors, planners, and policymakers think broadly, in terms of how the system as a whole is benefiting the people it is intended to serve. While the field of systems thinking has been applied in many other areas, such as business and education, there is a lack of knowledge and experience about applying this approach in the health sector, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
To address this gap, this project supports the development of a peer-reviewed journal supplement on how systems thinking can be applied to strengthen health systems. Some 12 individual articles will cover methodologies or tools that support its use in the design, implementation, and evaluation of health interventions in low- and middle-income countries. The goal is to translate systems thinking principles from theory into health practice. In selecting and developing articles for publication, the emphasis will be on collaboration among Southern-based researchers, with some North-South interaction. Emerging researchers, local stakeholders, and decision-makers involved in managing health interventions are actively encouraged to participate. The aim is to see the resulting articles published in a globally recognized journal.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Thursday, March 1, 2012

End Date

Sunday, March 1, 2015


36 months

IDRC Officer

Mhatre, Sharmila

Total funding

CA$ 392,100


Maternal and Child Health

Project Leader

Dr Zubin Shroff


World Health Organization

Institution Country


Institution Website