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Global Health Research - Health Policy and Systems

Our Global Health Research - Health Policy and Systems (GHR-HPS) programmes fund research to improve the understanding and effectiveness of health systems in low and middle income countries (LMICs). A country’s health system encompasses institutions, organisations and resources whose primary purpose is to improve health.

Health policy and systems research investigates both:

  • the ‘hardware’ of global health systems
    This includes the ‘building blocks’: governance, financing, medical products, management and information systems, human resources, service delivery organisation
  • the ‘software’ of global health systems
    This includes ideas, interests, values, norms, relationships, and distribution of power, which influence health system policies, processes and outcomes

We welcome research applications which address any of the 3 health system ‘levels’:

  • the national or global policy and system environment (macro)
  • organisations (meso)
  • individuals and their behaviour in delivering and using services within the system (micro)

About the new Health Policy and Systems programmes

The GHR-HPS programmes replace the previous Global Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR) Programme model. The key differences between this new model and our previous HPSR model are:

  • funding opportunities are now clearer, regular (annual) and more predictable, to help you prepare a strong application
  • there is a tiered approach with 3 bands of funding available, making it easier for you to find a suitable option. This recognises the breadth of research proposals - ranging from broad, ambitious research to projects with a narrower scope
  • there is an improved leadership model to help you facilitate equitable partnerships

We will be launching a funding opportunity under GHR-HPS in early 2025.

What we fund

Building on our Global Health Research operating principles, the strategic aim of the GHR-HPS programmes is to support applied research. To achieve this, your research should:

  • deliver multidisciplinary, applied health systems and health policy research aimed at strengthening health services, policies and systems in LMICs. Research must promote health equity and target the most vulnerable people in LMICs
  • meet needs identified within LMICs and consider how these align with LMIC global/national/regional/local priorities, strategies, or frameworks
  • propose research relating to wider elements of LMIC health systems such as:
    • leadership and governance
    • financing
    • health workforce
    • information systems
    • quality of care and health service delivery
    • health services management
    • community engagement structures
    • impacts on health systems of broader determinants of health
  • where research is focused on a specific health problem or service, make clear how it addresses the wider health system linkages and influences
  • include the development, testing and/or evaluation of interventions or approaches to improve health systems
  • target research areas that will lead to improved outcomes for the most vulnerable people
  • address issues of health equity through research which considers gender, age, ethnicity and socio-economic barriers to improved health, access to healthcare and economic impact
  • identify problems and outcomes relevant to health systems and policy which matter most to patients and carers, and consider how health systems could better meet their needs
  • generate new research knowledge and evidence with clear pathways to impact
  • involve and engage with communities and other stakeholders as appropriate, throughout the research life cycle:
    • community leadership
    • policymakers
    • service providers
    • patients, affected communities and service users
    • carers
    • civil society organisations
  • be designed in ways which will inform policy and/or practice. For example, through engaging with policymakers and informing local, regional, national or global strategies and frameworks
  • demonstrate equity and collaboration in:
    • programme leadership
    • decision making
    • capacity strengthening
    • governance
    • distribution of funds
    • ethics processes
    • data ownership
    • dissemination of findings
  • strengthen research capacity of individuals and institutions in a proportionate and relevant way, to deliver the proposed activities
  • include appropriate project management and financial/administrative support
  • create pathways for career development for future research leaders. Senior academics can ensure this by:
    • supporting less experienced researchers to lead or jointly lead on the research proposal or on significant project components, where appropriate
    • offering effective mentoring and appropriate support to enable this

Funding bands

There are 3 bands of funding based on the scale and ambition of the proposed research, the maturity of partnerships, teams’ experience and expected capacity strengthening plans.

GHR-HPS band 1

This is for more established research partnerships and experienced teams. This band is suitable for teams proposing a broad, ambitious programme of research and capacity strengthening. The research will be delivered through linked work packages typically across multiple country contexts. Funded programmes are expected to lead to significant impact on health outcomes, systems, policy and practice, and strengthen research capacity. 

GHR-HPS band 2

This is for developing or less mature research partnerships with varying levels of experience proposing to undertake a significant new programme of research, extend existing research and capacity strengthening and/or include more LMIC settings. The scope and complexity of these programmes can include multiple linked components. Alternatively, they can comprehensively address a single research theme. Funded programmes will lead to lasting impact on health outcomes, systems, policy and practice, and strengthen research capacity.

GHR-HPS band 3

This is for new research partnerships and/or less experienced teams. This band is suitable for teams proposing a research project which may be at an early or developmental stage. It may be delivered in a single country context. Funded projects will have a narrower scope than band 1 and 2 programmes. Projects should offer opportunities for early to mid-career researchers to develop leadership skills and progress their own research ideas. Funded projects will have clear outcomes and defined pathways to impact on health outcomes, systems, policy and practice.

Across all 3 bands, the scope, complexity, and ambition of your proposal should be proportionate to the amount of funding you are requesting.

Regardless of your level of experience, you are eligible to apply for a band 3 award where this is appropriate to your research plans. However, for less experienced researchers applying for bands 1, 2 and 3 funding, your application will need to show you have appropriate mentoring and support in place. Mentoring for a less experienced lead researcher cannot be solely from a more experienced co-lead.

What we do not fund

GHR-HPS will not support applications which:

  • do not meet the published funding opportunity criteria
  • do not demonstrate demand from LMIC stakeholders and/or links to relevant local, regional or national policies and priorities
  • do not clearly define a pathway to impact
  • do not demonstrate potential for generalisability of the research findings, or potential for scale-up of interventions to the wider health system
  • focus on a specific intervention or service and ignore the wider health system within which the intervention/service is situated
  • consist of one of the following on its own, rather than as part of an integrated research programme answering a question of HPS relevance:
    • randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of interventions
    • descriptive epidemiological studies
    • evidence synthesis
    • plans for service evaluation in isolation, unless this will inform evidence-based development and improve these services
    • dissemination or public health messaging
  • request costs for delivery of health services and training for health care staff unless essential to the improvement of these services, as part of a research programme
  • replicates research already undertaken in High Income Countries without clear justification
  • primarily focus on observational research, secondary research or health policy implementation


We will consider applications in any field of applied global health policy and systems research. This includes applications from experienced health systems and health policy researchers, or those who are new to research. All applications must benefit people living in one or more Official Development Assistance (ODA)-eligible country.

To be eligible to receive GHR-HPS funding, your application must demonstrate how it meets ODA compliance criteria.

You will need to outline:

  • which country or countries on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC) list of ODA-eligible countries will directly benefit
  • how your application is relevant to the development challenges of those countries
  • how the outcomes will promote the health and welfare of people in a country/ countries on the OECD DAC list

Researchers from high income countries are not eligible to apply as Sole Lead. Where elements of your research are undertaken outside an ODA-eligible country you must clearly state the reasons for this in your application. For example, you may need specialist expertise. You will need to consider how your research benefits ODA-eligible countries. If you know a country will be removed from the ODA-DAC list during the lifetime of your project, you will need to show how your research benefits ODA-eligible countries.


GHR-HPS has a two-stage assessment. Stage 1 is a short-listing outline stage. If you are successful at Stage 1, you will be invited to submit a full application at Stage 2. Feedback is provided to applicants at each stage.

How to apply

We will be launching a funding opportunity under our new HPS programmes model in early 2025.

Contact us

If you have any questions about GHR-HPS, please email our team at