About Us

The global conference of the International Health Economics Association has become a focal point for researchers, implementers, donor agencies and policy makers working on the private sector’s role in healthcare in low and middle income countries.

In 2007 an informal gathering of researchers on the private sector met for lunch at the conference in Copenhagen. From this group a small Committee was formed to organise a Symposium on the role of the private sector in health care.

In 2009 and 2011 one-day meetings of researchers focused on private healthcare issues were held. It was a chance to share findings and debate policy options. The most recent Symposium in Toronto attracted 165 participants and included keynote presentations by Tim Evans, Dean of BRAC University School of Public Health and Julio Frenk, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health.

In 2013, we welcomed over 100 participants to Sydney, Australia and a special issue of Health Policy and Planning is in development.

The Scientific Advisory Committee, which led both the 2009 and 2011 Symposia, is composed of representatives from research institutions around the world. In 2009 the work of this committee was led by the Karolinska Institutet; in 2011 it was led by the Global Health Group, University of California, San Francisco; it is currently led by the combined forces of Johns Hopkins University and the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.

Why hold symposia?

There is a growing acknowledgement that health systems development and strengthening should include private actors. Researchers are gradually filling the gaps in knowledge necessary for this inclusion.

However in many countries there is a lack of recognition of the private sector by policy makers. Funding for research on the role of the private sector in health systems is also scarce.

Through the biennial Symposium we aim to create and support an engaged community of researchers working on a range of issues related to health markets in developing countries. We have a particular focus on increasing the role played by researchers from low and middle income countries in this community. The Symposium is a unique opportunity to engage with cutting edge thinking and to meet with peers.

Previous speakers at the Symposium have gone on to collaborate on special issues of the journal Health Policy and Planning and it has been the catalyst for new alliances and partnerships.

Why become a thematic working group of Health Systems Global?

Although we think that physical symposia have been very effective in growing a community of practitioners working on the private sector in health, we set out during the last symposium to institutionalise the grouping. The creation of Health Systems Global presented an opportunity for us to do this. We hope that being a grouping under HSG will allow us to expand our offering to the group and to extend interactions beyond biennial symposia and to allow for a more transparent management and stewardship of the group. This does not necessarily mean that we will abandon the pre-congress symposia in advance of iHEA. For the time being, we see benefits in belonging to and participating in both HSG and iHEA. Read more about our vision for the TWG >>