Systems thinking is an approach to problem-solving that explores linkages, relationships, interactions, and behaviours among the elements in a system based on the premise of what works, for whom, and under what circumstances. The relevance of systems thinking to address inequities is propounded on grounds that it allows engagement with complexity, adaptation to context, action through networks, uses life course approaches, pays attention to upstream determinants and policies, and more.
In the pandemic context, as well as in the context of the climate crisis, we need to be mindful of and act on upstream determinants, acknowledging the interdependencies and dynamism inherent in reform processes. However, engagement with the idea of systems thinking has been confined to particular contexts, mostly led by the Global North, and does not engage with processes, ideas, and movements of the Global South. In this PMAC side meeting, we will aim to set up a series of conversations and explorations of what we mean by systems thinking, and what practical entry points it offers, based on country experiences, to improve health and well-being across low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in our regions, and the world.
The meeting will be co-organized by The Systems Thinking Accelerator (SYSTAC), which has been created under WHO’s Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (AHPSR), to connect health systems thinkers across the World. SYSTAC aims to increase the field of applied systems thinking LMICs in health system strengthening efforts; to provide a platform for exchange experiences and knowledge to take the field forward and capture health system challenges from front liners; and to promote and advocate for the use of systems thinking in health system strengthening efforts.
1. To showcase applications of systems thinking in and beyond our region that have implications/lessons for health policymaking (cases from Thailand, Timor Leste, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Botswana will be presented)
2. To explore concepts outside of the Global North that link up to systems thinking (contributions from Bhutan and Bolivia will be showcased)