Partners’ HPSR report – 2021



Eight institutions working on HPSR were identified in Cambodia: all are in the capital, Phnom Penh, and seven of these are governmental.

Research is conducted on health issues in Cambodia and is disseminated, but there are challenges in bridging research to policy. No single institution has overall responsibility for HPSR coordination and the health research landscape is characterized by limited capacity and funding – despite the introduction of a small government budget for HPSR. This has resulted in a continued reliance on external finance and technical support. There has, however, been a growing interest in the use of scientific evidence for policy, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) is expanding its capacity in this area.

Institutions by type

Knowledge generation 

While research is often disseminated, there is, to date, no formal system in Cambodia to bridge research findings to policy. The number of HPSR reports produced, while remaining fairly small, increased from 12 in 2019 to 14 in 2020. This is still a decline since 2018, when there were 17 reports. The Department of Hospital Services produced 5 of the 17 reports published in 2018, while the National Centre for Health Promotion (NCHP) produced around one-third of the HPSR reports published in both 2019 and 2020.

Average number of reports produced per institution each year in Cambodia and overall

Engaging policy-makers and the public 

There has been a growing interest in using scientific evidence for policy, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis, and this offers potential in-roads for HPSR in the country. The total number of meetings between institutions and policy-makers has remained fairly stable since 2018, rising from 29 to 33, with a slight increase in the average number of meetings per institution from 5.8 to 6.6.

There has been specific policy progress on HIV, with increased budget allocation for HIV responses and the full integration of HIV-related services into health-care systems over the reporting period. A grant of US$ 41 million from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) has been approved, while the government budget has increased to US$ 13 million (including funds for antiretrovirals and salaries). Advocacy is now a key strategy to ensure health insurance for all people living with HIV (PLHIV) – and not only those who are poor – to support holistic health care. Further progress, however, will require a clear strategy and adequate resources.

In terms of outreach to the public, the number of newspaper articles on HPSR remains small, rising from only 5 in 2018 to 6 in 2020, with an average of just over 1 per institution throughout the reporting period.

Average number of meetings held with policy-makers per institution each year in Cambodia and overall

Average number of media articles published per institution each year in Cambodia and overall

Academic and institutional capacity 

There is limited capacity to conduct HPSR in Cambodia, with a shortage of local and technical expertise. HPSR training within the relevant government institutions remains a challenge, with limited interest among policy-makers and a lack of mutual understanding between policy-makers and researchers, and no single institution is responsible for HPSR coordination.

There has, however, been a marked increase in the number of students participating in HPSR courses, which has more than doubled from 39 to 95 over the past several years. The National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) – with its 90 students in 2020 – accounts for the vast majority of this increase. 

Total number of HPSR faculty and staff

Total number of participants in HPSR-related short courses

The NIPH, which is mandated to bring scientific evidence to policy, has been expanding its capacity to conduct HPSR and identify strategies to lead HPSR training for health professionals. The NIPH has good collaboration with the Institute for Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp, Belgium, on strategies to build capacity among staff through sandwich PhD programmes throughout project implementation. In addition, NIPH has had more opportunity to build capacity on the area of HPSR among NIPH staff through a mentorship programme funded by the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research at WHO.

Despite these indications of progress, HPSR capacity still needs to be strengthened – both among NIPH staff members in line with its new strategic plan and those in other institutions. Greater efforts are needed to gain political support, and, ultimately, increase the national budget for HPSR.

HPSR financing

The government has provided a budget to the NIPH since 2019, amounting to US$ 180 000 in 2020. However, this budget is not large enough to bridge research findings to policy and the NIPH continues to face a lack of funding for HPSR production and technical capacity. In addition, the budget is not guaranteed: it remains dependent on the availability of government finance in each fiscal year.

The majority of HPSR funding in Cambodia comes from external sources. It is not possible to document its precise level, however, because the working definition of HPSR is not consistent across the institutions that receive such funding, resulting in a lack of accessible and accurate information.

Total institutional expenditure

Credits and disclaimers

Partners’ health policy and systems research report, 2021


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