Amplifying Resilient Communities: Identifying Resilient Community Practices to Better Inform Health System Design

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Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has been an inflection point, bringing heightened awareness around the preparedness and resilience of public health systems in dealing with severe shocks. While the pandemic has accentuated the existing weakness in public health systems, for many, especially those belonging to marginalized sections of society, seeking healthcare has always been fraught with severe challenges and frictions.

This paper presents the findings from a two-year design research project conducted in South Africa and Bangladesh, which studied the challenges faced by health seekers, especially those whose ability to access healthcare is compromised by a range of vulnerabilities. These populations display remarkably adaptive behaviors and innovations that are aimed at mitigating the lacunae in public health systems.

In our analysis, these lacunae are articulated as points of friction, which are the gaps between the expectations of health seekers while accessing healthcare and the ability of health systems to meet these expectations. For vulnerable communities, these points of friction are often accentuated and more acutely felt. Taking a design thinking lens, we see these points of friction as opportunities for change that can potentially drive innovations in the public health space, leading to better health outcomes. The paper concludes with a set of design principles, which are meant to address the frictions identified during the course of the study and inform more user centered health systems in the future. Keywords: Health Systems, Human Centered Design, Design Research

Article citation: 2022 EPIC Proceedings pp 245-269, ISSN 1559-8918,

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