SA4D6      Half Unit
Health Systems and Policies in Developing Countries

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Mrigesh Bhatia OLD2.34


This course is available on the MSc Health Policy, Planning and Financing, MSc in Global Health, MSc in Health, Community and Development, MSc in Health, Population and Society, MSc in International Health Policy, MSc in International Health Policy (Health Economics) and MSc in Population and Development. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course focuses on health system reforms. It aims to identify key health systems and policy issues in developing country context and understand why health sector reforms have become an important issue in the developing countries. It will examine the assumptions upon which health system reforms are based and the evidence to support these assumptions. After an introductory lecture on the history of the development of health systems and policies of the member nations of the World Health Organisation, the content of the course is divided into three components. These are financing health care, delivery of health care and stewardship. Because Primary Health Care is once again at the centre of the World Health Report (2003), these sections will focus on equity, participation and intersectoral collaboration. With respect to financing, the emphasis will be on options for financing health care in developing countries, examining the potential role of user charges, social health insurance and community financing schemes. Delivery will focus on social franchising, decentralisation and the role of the private/public mix. Under stewardship, the course will explore issues around human resources for health and capacity building. The course concludes with a session on the future of Health Sector Reforms in developing countries.


15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT. 3 hours of lectures in the ST.

Formative coursework

An essay of not more than 2,000 words.

Indicative reading

Lister J, Health Policy Reform: Driving the wrong way? Middlesex University Press, 2005; S Bennett, B McPake & Mills, Private health providers in developing countries: serving the public interest? Zed Press, 1997; M Bhatia & E Mossialos, 'Health Systems in developing countries', in Anthony Hall & James Midgley, Social Policy for Development, Sage, Sage, 2004; M S Grindle (Ed), Getting Good Government: Capacity Building in the Public Sector of Developing Countries, Harvard Institute for International Development, Boston, 1997; K McLaughlin, & S Osborne, New Public Management in Action, Routledge, 2001; A Mills & S Bennett, The Challenge of Health Sector Reform: what must governments do? Macmillan, 2001; S Rifkin, 'Linking equity and empowerment with health outcomes: it's a matter of CHOICE', Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, Vol 21 (3): 168-180; 2003; S Rifkin & P Pridmore, Partners in Planning, Macmillian, 2001; A Sen, Development as Freedom, Oxford University Press, 1999; M Segall, 'District health systems in a neo-liberal world: a review of five key policy areas', International Journal of Health Planning and Management, 18: S5-S26, 2003; World Bank, World Development Report 1993: Investing in Health, Washington DC: The World Bank, 1993; World Bank Bureaucrats in business. The economics and politics of government ownership, Washington DC: World Bank, 1995; WHO, The World Health Report, 2000: Health Systems: Improving Performance, Geneva: WHO, 2002. Available online at; World Health Organisation, World Health Report 2003, Geneva: WHO, 2003.


Exam (75%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (25%, 2000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 1.9
Merit 83.7
Pass 13.5
Fail 1

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2015/16: 56

Average class size 2015/16: 14

Controlled access 2015/16: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information