By Julia Day

We have a packed room here at the Institute of Development Studies for the first day of the Beyond Scaling Up workshop organised by the STEPS Centre and our affiliate partner Future Health Systems. And very surprisingly, for the UK, summer appears to have arrived on time to welcome our 50 or so guests.

The workshop is intended to challenge the thinking behind prevailing concpets of ‘scaling up’ in the health sector. First, rather than understanding scaling up as a process that can be abstracted from its setting and controlled and synthesised as a set of ‘how to do’ methods, it brings context to centre stage and explores the often determinining role of political economy factors in success or failure. Second, it seeks to refocus the debate on institutional development and organisational learning as critically neglected areas of the current scaling up agenda.

There are two objectives for this two-day workshop. The first is to explore approaches that have fostered innovation, rapid learning and large scale impact in the health sector that incorporate context and social arrnagements as central to learning and change. The second objective is to identify practical approaches for collaboration between innovators, researchers, governments and funding agencies to strengthen the capacity of health systems to meet the needs of the poor.

So, we are looking forward to two days of debate and innovative ideas for action on how to progress. The speakers at this meeting are people with practical experience of implementing change and analysis of health systems and the management of change. Among the delegates we have members of governmental departments, business and no-for-profit organisations as well as those involved in funding major health initiatives, and some practitioners from outside the health sector, in order to foster cross-sector learning.

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