Call for Proposals: Health Equity in Decentralized Democracy

Call for Proposals: Health Equity in Decentralized Democracy


Democracy is essential for achieving good health globally.1 A recent comprehensive study by Bollyky et al. (2019) asserts that “democracies are more likely than autocracies to lead to health gains for causes of mortality”.2 Democracy explained variance in mortality for cardiovascular diseases, transport injuries, cancers, cirrhosis, and other non-communicable diseases. It was found that this effect is driven by the higher degree of health care investment in experienced democracies.

At the local level, democracy is widely assumed to have a positive effect on health because it empowers communities to actively participate in decision-making processes. As communities are included, it ensures that healthcare policies and practices are tailored to their specific needs, values, and priorities, which fosters a more inclusive and responsive healthcare system.

However, while social scientists have long debated the relationship between democracy and health, it is a debate that has intensified in recent years along with global trends of autocratization. More research is needed to draw more definitive conclusions about the effects that democratic governance may have on population health.


This research initiative aims to explore the democracy-health nexus, with a focus on the local level. The research is meant to support and provide recommendations for local governments striving to promote health equity within the framework of decentralized democracy. The research team shall provide knowledge support to local governments in ICLD’s programmes, with special attention to ICLD’s Network of Municipal Partnerships for Equitable Health.

Potential research questions may include:

  • How does improved citizen participation benefit health (care) decision-making?

  • How can we integrate and understand local knowledge from local communities to find more equitable and sustainable solutions to problems of healthcare provision?

  • What are communities’ perspectives of health equity in resource-constrained areas? And what are the key drivers building equity through sensible (local) government policy?

  • How can local governments in resource-constrained
    areas work to strengthen health system financing? Departing from lessons from WHO guiding principles for health financing.

  • ICLD encourages the use of participatory methodologies such as Participatory Action Research and Community-Based Participatory Research.


    The research project shall produce:

  • A detailed Research Report according to ICLD guidelines that articulates the findings and provides actionable recommendations for policymakers and stakeholders.

  • A concise Policy Brief according to ICLD guidelines aimed at translating complex research findings into practical guidance for local governments.

  • At least one dissemination/learning activity related to ICLD’s Network of Municipal Partnerships for Equitable Health.

  • Please see ICLD’s previous publications for examples of research reports and policy briefs. Additionally, the project team must commit to organise a dissemination activity online, and be proactive in identifying and leveraging opportunities for knowledge dissemination in meetings of the ICLD network and other relevant fora.


    This grant is the equivalent of up to 500.000 SEK including personnel, operational cost of fieldwork and dissemination activity, and overhead costs (maximum 20%).


    8 months from the signing of contract until deliverable submission. Applicants should provide a clear timeline with milestones.

    Who can apply?

    Applicants must be affiliated with an accredited research institution, which is to channel and administer the funds. The principal investigator must hold a PhD degree in a relevant field and be proficient in English.

    How to Apply

    For more information and job application details, see; Call for Proposals: Health Equity in Decentralized Democracy

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