Complex System Thinking and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) prevention

Complex System Thinking and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) prevention

Student Expedition to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, September 2017.

Students from the MSc in Global Health and Management (2016/17) Eilidh Cowan and Lisa Thomas with supervisor Dr Lucia D’Ambruoso travelled to the LSHTM in September to attend a symposium organised by ECOHOST the Centre for Health and Social Change and the Centre for Global NCDs at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The symposium focused on complex systems thinking in regards to the prevention of NCDs worldwide.

Our students engaged with speakers and delegates from a number of institutions, predominantly LSHTM.

Here are their reflections on, and some images from, the visit:

Throughout the course of our study the burden and the increase of NCDs globally has been highlighted. This is especially problematic in low- and middle-income countries due to the burden they present to health systems.

Complex System Thinking is an approach to identify and evaluate ways of improving multifaceted health problems. It highlights the complexity of health problems and offers a way of putting knowledge into action. The experience of this symposium extended our thinking process when considering research in relation to the health system. For example, one speaker detailed the importance of considering external factors, such as road infrastructure, when conducting health research.

A point discussed throughout the symposium, was the use of information generated, through the complex system thinking approach, within the health system and policy field. This was particularly useful as it contributed to our existing knowledge gained in the Health System and Policy Research course, at the University. This was valuable to our learning experience as it contextualised the course materials through insight into current research.

This opportunity to attend the symposium at the LSHTM provided us an invaluable insight in the emerging field of Complex System Thinking. We view this experience, coupled with our existing knowledge from our Masters, as beneficial as we progress towards careers in Global Health. Further information of the symposium can be found on the LSHTM website and on Twitter, #LSHTMcomplexity

Harry Rutter during his talk named “What do we need to do differently to meet the policy challenges?” (Twitter: @martinwhite33)

Lisa Thomas outside the LSHTM building