Second Call for Papers: From COVID-19 to stronger people-centred and equitable health systems: HPSR from LMICs

Health Policy and Planning launched a call for papers in 2020 on the basis of a Commentary in which we proposed a research agenda for Health Policy and Systems Research (HPSR) linked to COVID-19. The call led to a number of publications, which have ranged from studies on the effect of COVID-19 on the use of health services and on forgone care, to the role of trust in shaping perceptions of vaccination, mainstreaming gender in outbreak research, and inter-organisational coordination for better surveillance.

Now, more than two years after the pandemic started, our overarching concern remains whether and how responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have created opportunities for strengthening socially just health systems. And now, as we look to the future, it is even more important to take a step back in order to take stock of what happened during the COVID years in terms of health system governance, transformation and innovation.

We encourage submissions by researchers, policymakers, providers, health system managers and programme managers. Papers can focus on regional, national, sub-national and ‘district’-level impact and responses. We are particularly interested in papers that critically review the response to the pandemic at country-level in low- and middle-income countries.

Themes and topics

We are looking forward to receive manuscripts on the themes presented below. For each theme, we suggest research questions or topics.

  • Papers presenting a critical analysis of emergent responses

Where and in which conditions did the pandemic trigger bottom-up responses? If and why were these responses effective?  Where and why did bottom-up responses address the needs of marginalised groups? How did health system managers and policymakers encourage and manage bottom-up innovations? What lessons can be learned in terms of community engagement?

  • Papers describing and analysing the governance and policy- and decision-making processes underlying the response to COVID-19

Which lessons can be learned from the (spontaneous) response to the pandemic in terms of national-level or local health system-level governance arrangements? What is the link between governance arrangements and responsive pandemic control measures? Were bottom-up responses sustained and taken up in routine planning and management?

  • Papers on lessons learned regarding resilience of (local) health systems

What is the current discourse on resilience among policymakers, health system managers, etc. and how was is shaped by the pandemic? Is there a paradigm shift from ‘crisis management’ and ‘outbreak response’ to ‘resilient health systems’? Did the response to COVID-19 enable a deepening of the resilience of (local) health systems? In which conditions did this happen? Are there lessons being learned regarding resilience that apply to other urgent health challenges, like climate change?

Types of papers

As with the first part of this call, original research articles as well as review papers and critical commentaries are invited. We also explicitly welcome critical country-level analyses, and Innovation and Practice Reports. The latter are short reports presenting narratives, reflections and experiences from the perspective of health providers, managers and decision-makers operating at the national or sub-national level, which focus on innovative approaches to strengthen health systems.

Publication process

Papers will be published as they are accepted and will be grouped into a dedicated and ongoing Research Collection on this topic collated by Section Editors Prof. Bruno Marchal and Prof. Lucy Gilson as well as our Co-Editors-in-Chief, Prof. Sandra Mounier-Jack and Prof. Virginia Wiseman. Papers that receive positive reviews but are not deemed suitable for this collection will still be published within a standard journal issue in Health Policy and Planning.

All papers will be subject to peer review. We aim to have at least 50% of the papers having a first or last author from a low- and/or middle-income country.

Full manuscripts should be submitted to Health Policy and Planning through the submission link on the journal website ( During the submission process please note your paper is to be considered as part of this COVID-19 Research Collection.

For enquiries please contact



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