Governance and Financing

Research Overview

The Governance and Financing Unit (GFU) aims to strengthen the foundations of health systems – their governance, funding arrangements and policy frameworks – to better support the delivery of effective services and programs.

Across the world, health system weaknesses are recognised as a major constraint to improving and scaling up community access to primary health care services. But health systems are complex and dynamic, covering both the public and private sectors, and different contexts and challenges invariably call for different solutions.

We seek evidence to strengthen health systems by addressing problems both 'upstream' – policy, finance and governance – and 'downstream' – managing and applying policy to the provision of services. We engage with donor agencies and regional and international organisations, including the World Health Organization and the World Bank, to improve the way that aid and international policy guidelines support health systems in low- and middle-income countries.

We also work closely with national governments and research partners in these countries to apply international resources and knowledge to achieve improvements in equity and to address the needs of the poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged.

GFU currently has three areas of focus:

  • Health Financing: research and technical support for governments and development partners seeking to advance universal health coverage in low- and middle-income countries of the Asia–Pacific region
  • Public-private health systems: research and analysis on strategies for management and regulation of mixed public–private health systems
  • Non-communicable diseases: applying a health systems approach to help governments develop strategies and frameworks to tackle the rise of NCDs in several Asia–Pacific countries.

Our activities:

  • Knowledge hubs for the Asia Pacific Observatory (APO) and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
  • Partnership with the University of Queensland as a knowledge hub and member of the Steering Committee of the APO on health systems and policies. The work includes publication of Policy Briefs, books Health in Transition studies on:
  1. Dual practice of health workers in developing countries
  2. Government purchasing of private health care services
  3. Extending universal coverage to the informal sector
  4. The experience and lessons learned in the application of Diagnosis Related Groups in Asia and the Pacific
  5. Preparation of a number of Health in Transition studies for the APO, including a report on Cambodia
  • Convening the Health Policy and Health Finance Knowledge Hub, one of four health system knowledge hubs funded by the DFAT Australian Aid Program, 2008–13. The Hub provided a platform for conducting health systems research and communicating the results to policy makers in the four key thematic areas of:
  1. Health finance / achieving Universal Health Coverage
  2. Engaging the private sector, governance and regulation of mixed health systems
  3. Building capacity of health systems to address NCDs
  4. Management of development assistance to improve health systems and financing in the Pacific.

Research on health systems and policies:

  • Health financing (ADRA grant, Cambodia; URC/USAID contract, Cambodia; technical advice)
  • Governance (governance of public hospitals in the Asia-Pacific for the Asia-Pacific Observatory)
  • Prioritising interventions for sub-national planning for Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health in the Asian region (collaborative program with UNICEF and University of Queensland).

Technical assistance

  • Policy analysis and policy advice (through our Knowledge Hubs, relations with development partners, advice to Ministries of Health including social health insurance in Laos and preparation of Cambodia's Health Strategic Plan)
  • Design and evaluation of programs

Education and training:

  • Adaptation and delivery of the World Bank Flagship course on Health System Strengthening and Sustainable Financing reform for the Pacific region (working as a member of the Asia Network for Health System Strengthening and in conjunction with the World Bank Institute)
  • Supervision of postgraduate and PhD research student


Our partnerships focus on mutual capacity building around health systems research and policy influence, and include, among others:

  • Public Health Foundation of India (Governance Hub)
  • University of Gadjah Mada, Indonesia (Centre for Health Service Management)
  • Ministry of Health, Cambodia
  • National Institute for Public Health, Cambodia
  • Cambodian Development Resource Institute, Cambodia
  • Health Strategy and Policy Institute, Ministry of Health, Vietnam
  • Centre for Health Information, Policies and Programs, Fiji
  • International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh


Dr Shakil Ahmed
Associate Professor Jim Black
Dr Kris Hort
Professor Barbara McPake
Dr Michael Palmer

Research Projects

This Research Group doesn't currently have any projects

School Research Themes

Prevention and management of non-communicable diseases (including cancer), and promotion of mental health, Data science, health metrics and disease modeling

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Associate Professor Peter Annear

Department / Centre

Nossal Institute for Global Health

Unit / Centre

Governance and Financing