Health Policy (POL)

Important notice: the structure of this short course is being reviewed. Soon new short courses will be published and opened for application. The description below, although it gives an indication, is no longer valid.
The Short Course in Health Policy is a 7-week course for health professionals and researchers involved in health policy development and health financing strategies with the objective of strengthening health systems for Universal Health Coverage in low and middle income countries at decentralised, national or global level.
The teaching staff brings expertise from different disciplines such as public health, political sciences, international relations, economics and anthropology and has experience in health policy formulation, implementation, evaluation and research in a broad array of low and middle income settings as well as international institutions dealing with global health challenges. The experience of the teaching staff, together with the inputs from a diverse group of participants provides for a broad comparative international perspective and a course rich in exchange.

Mode of study

This course (component) is organized :
- Face-to-face (Antwerpen)

Learning Objectives

  • Analyse health policy processes using appropriate theories, methods and tools
  • Explain the roles different categories of actors and networks play in different phases of the policy process, assess power differentials and their influence on policy outcomes
  • Analyse the policy process in the context of multi-level governance arrangements; more specifically the interfaces between the decentralised, national and global levels
  • Develop and present policy scenarios to strengthen health systems for Universal Health Coverage
  • Explain the economic principles (supply and demand) of health care utilisation and financing
  • Analyse a health care market and the role of the government
  • Integrate the concepts of equity and efficiency in policy development
  • Analyse benefits and pitfalls of health financing reforms in low and middle income countries, including their contribution to Universal Health Coverage
  • Propose well-argued re-orientations of health financing arrangements and develop strategies for the implementation of a reform 


The course is organised in 2 modules of 3 weeks each and a 7th week for assessment. The first module focuses on the development of health policies to achieve health system strengthening for UHC; the second module discusses the health financing arrangements which would contribute to UHC.
Module 1 Health Policy development
Theme 1.1 - Policy analysis
This theme covers policy analysis methods & tools to illustrate the key public policy and decision-making theories, the policy cycle, the different policy arenas and their interfaces, the role of different categories of actors, and the analysis of the health governance context.
Theme 1.2 - National and decentralized health policy development
This theme focuses on national and decentralised health policy-making processes in the different low and middle income contexts, including decentralisation & local government, policy development and bottom up planning.
Theme 1.3 - Global health policy
This theme is devoted to global policy-making and focuses on key areas such as human resources for health and human rights and examines the discourses and the impact of global health policies and actors in national policy-making processes in LMIC.
Module 2 Health financing reform
Theme 2.1 – Principles of economics and health economics
This theme covers the principles of economics and health economics: supply and demand theories, health care market and the role of the government, equity in health and in health financing and the performance of health financing systems.
Theme 2.2 – Development of financing reforms:
This theme focuses on health care financing reforms applied in LMICs, with themes such as: performance-based financing, health equity funds, vouchers (coupon system), national health insurance etc. These financing reforms will be analysed from an economic perspective, i.e. using the concepts studied in theme 2.1.
Theme 2.3 – Management of the financing reform process:
This theme focuses on the policy process and the monitoring and evaluation aspects linked to health financing reforms.

Teaching and learning methods

The course uses established methods for adult learning, which emphasize a participatory approach to learning. Teaching consists of interactive lectures, small group sessions followed by plenary presentations and discussion, guided personal assignments and seminar presentations linked to personal assignments . In addition, personal work is required for preparatory and further reading and for the personal assignments. Exchange of experience, case studies, comparison and discussion are essential in the learning process. All teaching material, including theme-specific readers are distributed via an online platform.


Assessment of the two modules is based on personal work in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, in which theory and frameworks are applied to the own professional context. The assignment consists of two parts that have an equivalent weight in the final grade:
  • the description and analysis of a political process and the involved actors and the development of a strategy for policy reform.
  • the analysis of a health financing problem at (sub-)national level, the proposal of solutions and the development of a strategy for the application of reform.
In case of failure one re-sit is allowed.  

Admission requirements

This course is intended for health professionals and researchers involved in the development of health policies and health financing strategies aiming at health systems strengthening in view of Universal Health Coverage in low- and middle-income countries at decentralised, national or global level.
Admission criteria are:
  • A university degree in health sciences.
  • A minimum of 2 years of relevant experience in health policy and health financing in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Proficiency in the course language: candidates who are not native speakers of the course language or whose language of instruction during higher education is not the same as the course language, must provide proof of language proficiency by a certificate from a recognized institution. Required level for English: TOEFL paper-based 580, computer-based 230, Internet-based 88 or IELTS 6.5

Selection criteria

  • Number of years and relevance of professional experience
  • Academic record (grades)
  • Motivation
  • References
  • Relevant additional training (a degree of Master in Public Health or equivalent is an asset) 


This course (component) is accredited by :


Course Leader: Wim Van Damme
Coordinator (s): Sara Van Belle
Secretary: Linde De Kinder
Tel: +32(0)32476627


The course study load is equivalent to 10 ECTS credits (European Credit Transfer and accumulation System credits).