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Research Groups

The India Primary Health Care Support Initiative (IPSI)


The India Primary Health Care Support Initiative (IPSI), based in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, was established in July 2020. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Initiative aims to strengthen primary health care systems in select states of India. IPSI activities are focused on “three pillars”: implementation research, capacity building, and promoting evidence-based policy. IPSI works with central and state governments in India, national and international civil society organizations, and academic institutions.

Why primary health care?

IPSI is based on the philosophy that strong primary health care systems are foundational for achieving universal health coverage. India has a long-standing commitment to comprehensive primary health care. The National Health Mission, and the government’s new flagship health program, Ayushman Bharat (particularly the Health and Wellness Center component), represent important efforts to strengthen state primary health care systems. The high dual burden of non-communicable and communicable diseases, population aging, rapid urbanization, and rising health expenditures, have made it even more critical to strengthen primary health care systems. Furthermore, the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted the important role of primary health care services and strategies for containing infectious disease epidemics. IPSI seeks to support the Ayushman Bharat program and beyond in select states to create a supportive ecosystem for improving the primary health care system by promoting sound policies, improved government management and technical capacity, and better coordination among various stakeholders.

The IPSI approach

The Initiative will focus on “three pillars” to strengthen comprehensive primary health care in select states of India. 

  1. Implementation research for better performing primary health care systems
    Implementation research methods will be applied to improve performance of primary health care programs. This component also includes conceptualizing and piloting new primary health care service delivery models, and integrating primary health care with hospital care in the context of the national PM-JAY insurance program. 
  2.  Learning for more effective primary health care programs
    The second pillar of the IPSI project focuses on better learning on primary health care within state health departments, relevant civil society organizations, and policy makers. This will be accomplished by (a) conducting trainings to inform on global developments on primary health care systems and implementation research; (b) organizing learning exchanges with exemplar primary health care models within India and abroad; and (c) create a national comprehensive primary health care learning network. 
  3. Evidence based primary health care policy 
    To promote better primary health care policies, IPSI will support the creation of health policy units nested within a local university or think tank. These health policy units will support all project activities within focus states. Policy discussions on primary health care with state governments will be convened and state primary health care policy documents produced.

Consortium of partner organizations

IPSI activities will be undertaken in partnership with a range of institutions operating in the primary health care space. Within states, IPSI activities will be carried out through a consortium of national- and state-level academic institutions. Other relevant agencies, including national and international civil society institutions, will be engaged for promoting evidence-based primary health care policy, and learnings.

The project director is Krishna D. Rao PhD, MSc, an associate professor in the Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School. Other Bloomberg School faculty working on the project include