A lecture theatre full of students and staff

Module overview

Today there is mounting evidence that efficient, equitable and more inclusive health systems are essential to achieve improved health outcomes. Effective management of such systems is fundamental to ensure these desired health outcomes are achieved. The Health System Development (HSD) module is structured to provide strong insight into a whole system approach to health; it’s designed to underpin the significance of leadership roles, and the paramount value to prepare health professionals for effective communication and decision-making at all levels. Sessions are planned to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to improve the health of populations, communities and the health systems that serve them through enhancing their ability to understand the process of strategic health care planning and critically synthesise real-life case studies within a health system context. By the end of the module, students will be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of the disciplines of public health leadership and system thinking.

Module aims

This module aims to expose students to, and engage them in, all-encompassing thinking of ‘health systems’ and the importance of a horizontal approach to health system investment and development to achieve better health outcomes. The module also aims to provide insight into a range of disciplines in health management including organisational behaviour, health policy, information systems and human resources in order to strengthen students’ capacities to think as effective health leaders.

Module structure

The Health System Development module will run in term two for Master in Public Health (MPH) students on Mondays for 10 sessions—special exceptions are made for WHO postgraduate fellows, Imperial staff, other Imperial postgraduate to take part if capacity permits. At its core, the teaching and learning in this module is interactive in nature and is based on the participation and engagement of students. Learning will take place in the form of group work, self-directed learning and some lectures. The module is divided into four main themes, within which a series of sessions have been designed to encapsulate the most relevant and most current issues relevant to the themes.

Theme 1: Introduction to Health Systems
1.1 Key concepts in health systems
1.2 Health system models: comparative assessment
1.3 Analysing health systems: anywhere republic

Theme 2: Assessing Health Needs
2.1 Health needs and health impact assessments
2.2 Health service evaluation

Theme 3: Leadership in health
3.1 Leadership styles and decision-making skills
3.2 Teamwork and public health crisis management

Theme 4: Policy, strategy and planning
4.1 Optimising the delivery of health services
4.2 Designing a primary care based health system
4.3 Human resources for health (HRH) in developing countries

Overall module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the global health systems landscape and the challenges and opportunities for securing universal health coverage;
  • Define health systems, and explain why it is important for securing good population health and health services;
  • Identify key components of well-functioning health systems, and the importance of the interplay between the 6 health system building blocks;
  • Recognise the importance of primary care based health systems;
  • Identify substantial global experiences in managing and leading health systems;
  • Critically compare different health system models;
  • Discuss theoretical framework(s) for assessing populations health needs and health system performance assessments;
  • Demonstrate an ability to contribute fully in a range of roles, both individually and as part of a team, as effective communicators and leaders

Assessment and formative feedback

This module will be assessed formally in the MPH Paper 2 examination in April 2017. No written assignments are planned for this module – however, the course leads and individual lecturers will be happy to provide students with feedback on request. WHO postgraduate fellows, Imperial staff, other Imperial postgraduate are exempt from the summative assessment.

As system thinking and overall health system development are core aspects of public health practice, the concepts introduced in this module should also provide useful insights into a range of other MPH modules including, but not limited to, Improving Health in a Globalised World, Global Health Governance and Challenges, and Health Policy, Systems and Financing.