The Fourth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research took place in Vancouver, Canada on November 14 – 18, 2016. The five-day conference centered on resiliency, specifically resilient and responsive health systems for a changing world. Other sub-themes were gender and ethics, innovation in health systems research, and power and politics in promoting public health values.

The Health Systems Program of the Department of International Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health participated in a total of 30 sessions, including plenary, organized, oral, skills-building, satellite, poster and e-poster sessions. Thirteen faculty and nine students were in attendance at the conference, representing both the Department of International Health and the Health Systems Program.

World Diabetes Day on November 14 launched the Global Symposium and Health Systems Program Director, Dr. Adnan Hyder, was featured in a Devex article, Health systems research is critical to tackle the global burden of disease. In the article, Dr. Hyder (who is also a HSG Board member), discussed using evidence-based and innovative health systems research to address the growing burden of diabetes in resource-poor settings and vulnerable communities.

Other key highlights from the Health Systems Program’s coverage at the Symposium included the official opening welcome address given by Dr. Sara Bennett, several panel sessions on ethics in health systems research featuring Drs. Pratt and Hyder, an interactive session on gender analysis in health systems research led by Dr. Rosemary Morgan, and a discussion led by Dr. Daniela Rodriguez on negotiating power and politics during programmatic transition in middle-income countries.

One of Health Systems’ top tweets was on gender equality, a growing theme at this year’s event. This year had an increased focus on including more diverse voices, with more attention on gender analysis and intersectionality, research from Latin America, and input from indigenous populations.

An important takeaway was that health systems research needs to do more to incorporate different perspectives into campaigns, programs, education and research. Marginalized populations with their own subset of health inequalities cannot be neglected going forward. The Health Systems Program looks forward to addressing issues of inequality in health systems research and advocating for more vulnerable populations worldwide as we begin preparing for the fifth global symposium that will be taking place in Liverpool in 2018.