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When a family becomes impoverished by the high cost of catastrophic illness or a woman dies in child birth for lack of skilled health workers and proper equipment, the problem is in the health system.
A working health system:
- Improves health outcomes.
- Protects citizens from catastrophic financial loss and impoverishment due to illness.
- Ensures consumer satisfaction in an equitable, efficient and sustainable manner.
- Delivers the right volume and distribution of services, using responsive provider-client interactions.
- Operates at the community, local, and national levels.
Creating a functioning health system is vital to making a lasting impact in developing countries. By creating the proper conditions for a fully functioning health system, USAID helps build country ownership and sustainability.
USAID’s health systems strengthening program provides support to ensure that developing country health systems are effective, efficient, responsive and equitable. Working health systems are vital to ensure widespread use of effective health services.
Health systems strengthening is a process that concentrates on ensuring that people and institutions, both public and private, undertake core functions of the health system (governance, financing, service delivery, health workforce, information and medicines/vaccines/other technologies) in a mutually enhancing way.
This process, whether guided by individual governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) or donor agencies, is underway in many countries as populations’ needs change and grow.
- By 2015, we will increase access to and use of interventions that address countries’ high levels of out-of-pocket spending. This includes improving skills of health managers, creation of improved data and related decision making, better aligned incentives and reform of key health system processes.
- By 2015, we will take steps to ensure that countries have deliberate strategies to address key health system bottlenecks.
- By 2015, we will develop a clear understanding of how to measure progress in health systems strengthening.
Last updated: March 27, 2014
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