August 11, 2017
Written by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
This article originally appeared on USAID’s website.
Health systems are the backbone of our efforts to save lives. While the connections between health systems and health outcomes make intuitive sense in the global health space, health systems strengthening (HSS) interventions have often been thought of as too far removed from health outcomes to establish a direct linkage.
USAID values and believes in health systems. Like the concept of a medical home, which is a team-based approach to delivering comprehensive and continuous medical care centered around the needs of the patient, health systems strengthening brings together the community of people that work on health within a country. It promotes population level health outcomes by making health systems more efficient, resilient, and sustainable.
For the first time—through the combined efforts of USAID and UNICEF—this report provides quantitative estimates of the value of investing in strengthening health systems in terms of the lives that will be saved. In previous Acting on the Call reports, we imagined a world where countries could scale up high impact maternal and child health interventions at rates equal to those previously achieved by “best performers.” Now we show how the scale-up of health systems interventions, chosen for their country-specific feasibility, are an essential element of achieving those ambitious outcomes.