This site is optimised for modern browsers. For the best experience, please use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

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).

Guidance on impact of COVID-19 on NIHR funded and supported research

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 services and whole systems research that can ultimately strengthen and improve health systems for people in LMICs. 

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 and 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)
  • Regional and national (macro-level)

The programme encourages applicants to involve a wide range of disciplines, as driven by the research question. Consideration of the needs identified by stakeholders in LMICs and relevant to low resource settings is particularly encouraged.

The Global HPSR programme funds research proposals from researchers in UK-based (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) higher education institutions and research institutes. 

Applications must include a co-applicant or joint lead applicant from a country eligible for Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding and relevant to the research proposal. 

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

Find out more about ODA eligibility

Global HPSR will support applications that:

  • Will deliver ODA-eligible applied research that will lead to improvements across the wider elements of a low resourced health system, such as governance, financing, health workforce, information systems, quality, service delivery etc.
  • Demonstrate joint leadership between the LMIC and UK research partners and have clear plans to engage with other relevant partners.
  • Are based on a feasibility study or existing pilot data collection (including assessing data quality).
  • Will clearly address one or more research priority/ies identified by relevant stakeholder engagement in LMIC(s).
  • Include applied research teams and involvement of a range of disciplines to support a whole health systems approach (driven by the research questions and priorities identified by LMICs), with relevant expertise, and plans for development of appropriate partnerships in LMICs.

Global HPSR will not support applications that:

  • Are in countries not eligible for ODA
  • Are not clearly relevant to global HPSR in an LMIC setting and context.
  • Are not based on research priorities identified in LMIC partner countries.
  • Only deliver local benefits, with no potential for scale-up to the whole health system level.
  • Do not include two Joint Lead Applicants, one of which must be in a LMIC and one in a UK institution
  • Request costs for delivery of health services unless essential to the development and improvement of these services, as part of a research programme
  • Evaluate an existing service, or the roll out of new services, except as part of a research programme.
  • Consist solely of one of the following:
    • funding for randomised controlled trials of interventions
    • epidemiological studies
    • evidence synthesis
    • implementation science
    • dissemination

The selection criteria used by the Global HPSR Funding Committee are:

  • two joint-lead applicants (LMIC and UK) with funding and contracting via the UK administering institution
  • plans for engagement with key stakeholders such as policy makers, communities, patients and researchers, to facilitate locally relevant research priority setting, needs assessment and a strategy for appropriate research uptake and dissemination
  • assessment of training and capability needs and how to best address them, particularly in low resourced settings.

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.

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.

Latest funding opportunities for global health research

Research and Innovation for Global Health Transformation - Call 4

The fourth call of the Research and Innovation for Global Health Transformation (RIGHT) programme will fund research on unintentional injuries, and urgent and emergency care, in low and middle income countries.

Global Health Research Centres Call 1 - Research and Institutional Capacity Strengthening in Non-Communicable Diseases

The first call of the Global Health Research Centres programme will fund and designate NIHR Global Health Research Centres in non-communicable diseases.

NIHR Global Health Research Presentation and Training Travel Award Pilot (GHR PTTA)

This award gives applicants the opportunity to plan a personalised presentation, training (skills/techniques/career development) and networking experience in another part of the NIHR (within the UK or a LMIC).

NIHR Global Health Research Units

These awards will provide funding to a well-established, equitable research partnership or network of universities and research institutes in LMICs and the UK with an existing track-record of delivering internationally recognised applied global health research.

NIHR Global Health Research Groups

These awards will provide funding to collaborations of specialist researchers within universities and research institutes in LMICs and the UK who wish to establish new programmes of applied health research.

All global health research funding opportunities

Latest news from global health research


How to...

Apply for global health funding

Read more

Manage your global health research

Read more

Meet NIHR branding requirements

Read more