Calls for research proposals – The Alliance HPSR


Calls for research proposals – The Alliance HPSR: The Alliance HPSR issues calls for research proposals and bids on a regular basis targeted towards institutions from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Call for proposals! Research on citizen responsiveness and empowerment in health insurance programmes, A joint call from the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (the Alliance) and the Department of Health Systems Governance and Financing (HGF) at WHO.

The Alliance and HGF invite research proposals to better understand how initiatives to empower citizens to be aware of and exercise their entitlements within the context of existent health insurance programmes have succeeded or not in this endeavor. Examples of these include initiatives to inform beneficiaries of their entitlements, those that seek to enable beneficiaries to act on this information as well as mechanisms for accountability including through citizen feedback. This call is aimed at researchers based in institutions in low- and middle-income countries – applications headed by a researcher based in a high-income country will not be considered.


The objectives of this research programme are to:

  • Support the generation of new knowledge on how existing initiatives and institutional arrangements within the context of existing health insurance type programmes have been able (or not) to empower citizens to be aware of and effectively exercise their entitlements
  • Develop analytically generalizable learning based on this knowledge for researchers, policy and decision-makers, and civil society organizations. Call for proposals – Research on citizen responsiveness & empowerment in health insurance programmes
  • Share this learning broadly, particularly among policy and decisionmakers and civil society organizations with the purpose of informing the design and implementation of health insurance programmes.

Areas for potential research might include:

  • Culturally and context appropriate information channels and campaigns on enrolment procedures, benefit packages and utilization of services particularly among communities in remote and rural areas as well as urban slum dwellers. For example, which information provision mechanisms (such as community forums, meetings and use of other “unbiased” organisations) and which information sources and (social) media are effective in reaching those population groups? What roles can providers play in information provision and information seeking?
  • The use of patient advocates to provide information on entitlements and enrolment and more broadly enhance access to services. Call for proposals – Research on citizen responsiveness & empowerment in health insurance programmes
  • Measures to empower beneficiaries (through information provision and grievance redressal mechanisms for example) to address implicit rationing of services to relatively disempowered segments of beneficiaries. Implicit rationing can take the form of longer waiting times, the non-provision of all services provided in the benefit design as well as provision of lower quality services to these segments of beneficiaries.
  • Measures to facilitate enrolment processes including through the use of mobile phones and automatic reenrolment policies.
  • Institutional arrangements and rules intrinsic to the design of the health insurance programme that directly influence access to information and the ability of citizens to use this information, and measures to empower beneficiaries to overcome barriers posed by these arrangements and rules. Examples include institutional arrangements where insurers are responsible for enrolment as well as information provision and are thus incentivized to put less focus on informing beneficiaries of their entitlements, or complex co-payment rules that are difficult for citizens to process.
  • Analysing accountability initiatives set up as part of insurance health programmes such as benchmarks and provider report cards including how effective these are in influencing provider and/or insurer behaviour.
  • Institutional arrangements and initiatives to engage citizens in informing policy design and implementation. These can take the form of citizen involvement in priority setting exercises for benefit design, as well as their involvement in oversight boards.
  • Mechanisms to seek feedback and to enable/facilitate complaints, including social media, that in particular target and help marginalized population groups (e.g. remote and rural populations, people with disabilities, people not being served, urban slum dwellers, migrant populations).

A protocol development workshop due to be held in the second half of 2019 will seek to align and harmonize protocols to ensure that the research programme is able to generate larger cross-cutting lessons pertinent to this area of work. A previous Alliance and HGF supported research programme provides an example of how this harmonization has worked in practice (


  • Researchers based in institutions in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are eligible to apply. Teams are encouraged to engage a member of a civil society organization on the core research team, and this will be viewed favourably in the selection of teams. 
  • Teams should be gender-balanced with women comprising at least 50% of the research team.
  • The experience of researchers, as reflected in the proposal as well as the CV of the principle investigator, should be in the topical areas of health financing, particularly health insurance, as well as in methodologies needed to carry out the research proposed.
  • Individuals from high-income countries are not eligible to apply as principle investigators. Collaborations between organizations based in LMICs and individuals and organizations in high-income countries are acceptable on the condition that not more than 15% of the total grant value can go to individuals or organizations based in high income countries.

Deadline: 8 March 2019


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