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Global Health Policy and Systems Research

The Global Health Policy and Systems Research (Global HPSR) programme aims to support health policy and systems research that is directly and primarily of benefit to people in low and middle income countries (LMICs).

NIHR statement on ODA funding for its Global Health Research Portfolio

The Global Health Policy and Systems Research (Global HPSR) programme supports high quality, appropriate and applicable research that aims to improve whole health systems and health services in low and middle income countries (LMICs).

To date the programme has offered three types of funding award:

  • development awards, for development of equitable partnerships between researchers in LMICs and those in the UK to support an application for future research funding;
  • commissioned awards on topics aligned with United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  • researcher-led awards, for research consortia to deliver research to improve whole health systems and health services for people in LMICs.

The programme supports development of equitable partnerships between LMIC and UK researchers, who together engage stakeholders to identify and address priorities for research in health policy and health systems, and develop plans for capacity strengthening and knowledge sharing.

Global HPSR research projects are expected to underpin the WHO #HealthForAll campaign to promote universal health coverage and support meeting UN SDG 3: ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.


The scope of the Global HPSR programme is broad, covering any area of applied health policy, health services and whole systems research that can ultimately strengthen and improve health systems for people in LMICs on the DAC list.

The scope includes but is not limited to applied research on wider elements of health systems such as governance, financing, health workforce, information systems, quality, and service delivery on health services and on the impacts of broader determinants of health. It can involve global health policy and systems research across the following domains:

• patient and practitioners (micro-level)
• organisation and delivery of health care (meso-level)
• national and regional (macro-level)

What we fund

Research applications must have two Joint Leads; these will normally be Principal Investigators employed by a Higher Education Institution (HEI) or Research Institute based in either an LMIC (on the DAC list) or the UK.

An LMIC contracting institution may propose joint leadership with another LMIC HEI or Research Institute or a UK HEI or Research Institute. If the contracting institution is UK-based, then it is mandatory to jointly lead with an LMIC institution.

Applications must demonstrate how the research proposal meets ODA compliance criteria.

Find out more about ODA eligibility

In Scope

Global HPSR will support applications that:

  • Meet the call remit, eligibility and key funding criteria
  • Propose applied health research programmes that primarily and directly address challenges faced by one or more LMIC(s) in provision of effective health services and systems, which includes, for example, research on long-term care.
  • Will clearly address one or more LMIC led research priority/ies.
  • Propose whole systems approaches to research based on findings from feasibility studies, existing pilot data collection (including assessing data quality), or previous research.
  • Propose applied health-related research to inform delivery of interventions that will lead from micro to macro-level improvements and will relate to and affect wider elements of a low resourced health system, such as governance, financing, health workforce, information systems, quality, service delivery etc.
  • Include interdisciplinary applied research teams to support a whole-system approach to tackle priorities identified by LMICs, with relevant expertise, and plans for development of appropriate partnerships in LMICs.
  • Seek to address issues of equity by incorporating research questions around gender, age, social barriers to health, and economic impact.
  • Consider the impact of COVID-19 within a wider systems approach, including its impact on services for other diseases and global health systems resilience

Out of Scope

Global HPSR will not support applications that:

  • Do not meet the published call remit, eligibility, and key funding criteria.
  • Limit their focus to only address the impact of a specific disease e.g. COVID-19 on health systems.
  • Only deliver sub-national benefits, with no potential for scale-up to the whole health system level or for wider generalisability.
  • Request costs for delivery of health services and delivery of training for health care staff unless essential to the development and improvement of these services, as part of a research programme.
  • Plan to evaluate an existing service, or the roll out of new services in isolation, rather than as part of an integrated research programme, and which consist solely of one of the following:
    - randomised clinical trials (RCTs) of interventions,
    - epidemiological studies,
    - evidence synthesis,
    - evaluations of existing services, where the programme of work does not include evidence-based development and improvement of these services
    - replicating research already undertaken in High-Income Countries – research proposals should be clearly relevant to the ODA-eligible country/ies in which the research is being undertaken
    - implementation science
    - dissemination
  • Primarily focus on establishing new patient cohorts, biobanks or bio-sample collections, or data collection studies (samples or data from existing cohorts may be used).

Our people

Applications to the Global HPSR programme are peer reviewed by professional and public reviewers, then considered by a funding committee. The committees recommend projects for funding to the Department of Health and Social Care, which approves which projects should be funded.

Members of NIHR Committees are required to declare any interests which conflict, or may be considered to conflict, with NIHR business, or may be perceived as influencing decisions made in the course of their work within NIHR programmes. All members are asked to complete the Register of Interest form (annually), which is intended to capture long term predictable interests that could be perceived to lead to conflicts of interest. These and other interests are judged on a case by case basis at individual meetings.

NIHR registry of interests

 Committee chair

The Global HPSR Funding Committee is chaired by Professor Anne Mills.

Committee members

View the full membership of the Funding Committee.

Meeting minutes


To date the Global HPSR programme has held two funding calls as part of a series of three complementary research funding opportunities. These have been informed by stakeholder engagement, including the development of a global HPSR community of interest.

Development awards

Development awards support equitable partnerships between researchers in LMICs and those in the UK to: 

  • identify and engage relevant stakeholders (policy makers and LMIC communities) 
  • undertake a needs-assessment and identify local priorities for research

The aim is that the work undertaken during a development award will support an application for future research funding from the Global HPSR programme. 

The first call opened June 2019, and offered funding of up to £100,000 per award for a duration of up to 9 months, 

Commissioned awards

A commissioned funding opportunity was held in September to December 2019, to award funding aligned with the WHO campaign to promote universal health coverage towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

The call awarded funding of up to 4 years and up to £4 million per award.

Researcher-led awards

These awards provide funding to research consortia to deliver applied global health policy and systems research to address policy and health systems for people in LMICs through equitable partnerships. Consortia include two Joint Leads (LMIC/LMIC or LMIC/UK institutions) and up to an additional three research institutions in LMICs.

Through this call, awards of up to £4 million maximum (typical range £1-4 million) for a period of up to 4 years are available for eligible research.



Contact us

We offer a wide variety of assistance during all stages of the research process. If in doubt, please get in touch.


Our operating hours are 9am to 5pm.

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