Research areas

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    Communicable & non-communicable disease control

    RGHI participants and partners at Erasmus MC excel in infectious disease research (Prof.dr. Jan Hendrik Richardus, Prof.dr. Sake de Vlas, Prof. Annelies Verbon, Prof.dr. Hubert Endtz), virosciences (Prof.dr. M. Koopmans, Prof.dr. Eric van Gorp), microbiology, NCDs, bioinformatics (Prof.dr. Peter Van der Spek), and gastro-enterology (Prof.dr. Maikel Peppelenbosch). A shared interest across the public health, biomedical and clinical participants in the RGHI pertains to the desire to enhance the clinical and systemic effectiveness of interventions, particularly in challenged environments. This is – for instance – demonstrated by cross-cutting Erasmus-based research on disaster/epidemics preparedness, linking basic science and clinical innovation to disease control and health systems strengthening.

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    Health equity & Universal Health Coverage

    At the start of the 21st century profound health inequities persist globally between countries and between social groups within countries. The Department of Public Health and the Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management are internationally renowned for their health inequalities research. Prof. dr. Johan Mackenbach (Dept. Public Health, head of department) and Prof. dr. Eddy van Doorslaer (Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management) are authorities in international comparative health inequalities research. Dr. Tanja AJ Houweling has led large projects on universal health coverage and socio-economic health inequalities in the early phases of life (pregnancy and childhood) worldwide. Their groups have done extensive research on the factors that contribute to health inequalities, on how to reach poor and vulnerable groups, and on how to reduce health inequalities (see also Programme Evaluation). Dr. Igna Bonfrer, currently leading the Global Health Economics group at the Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management, is involved in projects on the evaluation of health care financing reforms on the path towards UHC in several African countries.

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    Health systems financing, management & governance

    Good evidence on health care financing interventions that aim to extend coverage of health care services and ensure that effective medical care can be accessed without threatening household financial security can quicken the pace of progress toward Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Prof. dr. Eddy van Doorslaer has lead several large projects evaluating policies with these goals in a range of Asian and African countries (see also Impact Evaluation).

    Research on health services management & organisation covers the full width of the health care sector, from hospital care to child welfare. To a large extent, research is carried out in or close to the primary process. Examples of recent projects include the evaluation of disease management programmes, research into care pathways, patient safety and ICT in health care.

    No sustainable health systems development can occur without good governance. RGHI partners have an outstanding track record regarding specialized research on science-policy-practice relations in healthcare settings. Both at ISS and ESHPM, governance research is well established. Prof. Wil Hout (ISS) is actively engaged in researching the governance landscape surrounding key international development agencies and institutions such as the UN agencies. At ESHPM, Prof. dr. Roland Bal, with researchers such as Maarten Kok study processes of ‘building governance’ and deliberative democracy, using mixed methodologies and participatory action research strategies.

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    Programme evaluation

    Prof. dr. van Doorslaer has extensive experience with robust impact evaluations of health care financing reforms in low and middle-income countries. Using household and health facility data, the effects of reforms such as health insurance, performance based financing, and voucher schemes are being evaluated. Econometric techniques are applied to ensure robust impact estimates in settings where a randomized control trial is not feasible. Dr. Tanja AJ Houweling has extensive experience in equity impact evaluations of health interventions using randomised controlled trials and non-experimental designs. In a series of policy evaluations Prof. Arjun Bedi and colleagues at the International Institute of Social Studies have evaluated the impact of Ethiopia’s community-based health insurance scheme on household welfare and health.

    Prof.dr. Jan Hendrik Richardus and Prof.dr. Sake de Vlas at the Dept. Public Health lead research on the health and socio-economic consequences of infectious diseases and the cost-effectiveness of their control. A core activity is the development of simulation models describing the transmission and natural history of infectious diseases, and application of these models to predict the impact of control measures. The team collaborates with scientific, governmental and non-governmental organisations worldwide, and has contributed to the evaluation and development of control programs for infectious diseases in different settings. Infectious diseases covered include, among others, HIV, TB, and Neglected Tropical Diseases such as onchocerciasis, leprosy and leishmaniasis.


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    Urban health

    With over half of the world’s population living in cities, and megacities springing up in many parts of the globe, the wide array of challenges which particularly uncontrolled urban sprawl poses are part of RGHI research. The Department of Public Health in collaboration with the Municipal Health Council of Rotterdam is leading in urban health innovation and was instrumental in setting up Academic ‘Innovation Labs’, studying the health and equity implications of urban development. The Institute of Housing and Urban Development is the most specialized Urban Development research center in the country, involved in research on housing and urban planning, slum development, urban-rural interactions, and informal labour in urban centers. RGHI participants at the Institute of Social Studies such as dr. Joop de Wit are leading in the field of new empirical studies of slums (in India and other parts of Asia), and urban governance.