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2019 HSR Pre-Congress in Canada

2019 HSR Pre-Congress in Canada

Held on October 16th at the Delta Hotel in Ottawa, the pre-congress welcomed 44 participants for a full day meeting of 14 oral presentations centered around health research in the Latin American and Caribbean region. The keynote address was delivered by Sir George Alleyne, Director Emeritus of the Pan American Health Organization who spoke about the main theme of Re-imagining health systems for better health and social justice.

It was a pre-event to the 25th Canadian Conference on Global Health (CCGH) and the Sixth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research (HSR) taking place in Dubai, October 2020.


The impact for the event was:

  • Increased knowledge exchange and opportunity for partnership amongst researchers in Canada working in the LAC region
  • Enhanced capacity amongst the LAC researchers attending, as they will also be attended the CCGH
  • Abstracts presented will have an increased chance of being accepted by the very competitive scientific review process at HSR because of the feedback received to improve their abstracts and presentations
  • Researchers from the LAC region who presented will be eligible for one of ten travel grants offered by the Pan-American Health Organization to attend HSR in Dubai.


With the ultimate goal of bringing together researchers and policymakers of Latin America and the Caribbean working on issues related to health systems in the region, and enhanced representation of LAC researchers on the global health stage the objectives of this pre-conference are: 

  • To promote the exchange of knowledge and experiences of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers around interdisciplinary discussion tables
  • To promote the presentation of research by Latin American and Caribbean authors working/studying at Canadian Universities and Research Centers, or participating in joint projects with Canadian institutions abroad, in the open call of the 2020 HSR 
  • To develop capacity of Latin American and Caribbean researchers while they attend the 2019 Canadian Conference on Global Health
  • To promote partnerships between LAC researchers and Canadians
  • To involve young researchers in the CCGH and HSG events

Theme: Re-imagining health systems for better health and social justice

Ten years on from the first Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, health systems around the world are still far from achieving the Sustainable Development Goal to “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”. They remain predominantly sick care systems - disconnected from the broader upstream forces influencing health. A fundamental paradigm shift is needed if health systems are to be equipped to address complex and interconnected health and development challenges.

Sub-theme 1: Engaging political forces
Power and politics affect all actors and dimensions of health systems, influencing policy prioritization, resource distribution, accessibility and affordability of care, quality of services, gender equality and other forms of marginalization, as well as research institutions themselves. Corruption further increases inequality, impoverishes populations, and slows progress towards achieving Universal Health Coverage, particularly among the most vulnerable people. Faced with the spread of polarizing ideologies, tighter borders, growing health disparities, and unregulated commercial interests, analyzing and addressing power, politics and corruption in health systems is critical to tackling the underlying causes of health inequities. We must create the conditions to promote accountability and enable stronger social voice to challenge existing power relations and address corruption. In addition, health system stewardship must be strengthened through timely collation of information, building strategic multi-sectoral partnerships, and deploying evidence to inform decisions and actions.

Sub-theme 2: Engaging social, economic and environmental forces
Leaving no one behind requires that health systems engage with the social, economic and environmental forces that shape who has the resources to be healthy, including access to health services and the quality of these services. While the need to act on these broader forces is increasingly recognized as essential to reduce health disparities and promote health equity across the population, the challenges associated with migration, state fragility, conflict, urbanization and climate change remain largely overlooked by the health system community. 

Sub-theme 3: Engaging technological, data and social innovations
The rapid emergence of new technology, artificial intelligence and big data brings new opportunities and challenges to combat the growing burden of complex chronic disease and health inequity. Despite the profound changes taking place, healthcare delivery models have changed little in the last 50 years. Leveraging innovations can enable health systems to make rapid progress in expanding access to quality and affordable care by redefining how people, systems and information interact. Innovations may be technological, data-driven or social, encompassing new products, services, models or markets – ultimately seeking to identify new and more effective ways of solving problems that are scalable.

Priority themes
Special joint interests of IDRC and the CCGH will also be considered. These include: Accountability, women’s and youth political groups, the political economy of social and environmental forces influencing global health, climate change, environmental sustainability and food systems, healthy/unhealthy diets and the prevention of NCDs, urbanization and population mobility.