Health systems and health systems strengthening
A health system, according to the World Health organization, is comprised of all the activities whose primary purpose is to promote, restore and/or maintain health, and involves the people, institutions and resources that work together to improve the health of the population.
Health systems are strengthened when changes are implemented at the policy level or at the practice level in one or more functions of the health system in order to improve access, coverage, quality or efficiency.
Because health is a beneficiary of and contributor to sustainable development, CSIH’s focus on health systems strengthening contributes to building local capacity for development in every area targeted by the Sustainable Development Goals.
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CSIH’s overall framework for health systems strengthening is driven by a value-based vision of equity and accountability, supported by the two pillars of a social determinants framework and a “health in all policies” approach. CSIH works with partners in government, civil society, community, and academia to build and sustain the necessary leadership and long-term stewardship required for a sustainable health system. The conditions in which people live and work have dramatic consequences on their overall health and well-being. Therefore, the ability of a ministry of health to work intersectorally with other departments, such as education or labour, is critical. “Health in all policies,” brings attention to policies and programmes outside of the health sector to address social determinants of health that lead to poor health, inequalities and inequities.
CSIH’s approach to health systems strengthening includes the participation of civil society organizations that are able to engage and promote the rights of vulnerable and/or marginalized populations. They can interact with the health system, and build accountability and transparency around the public and private actors responsible for health, and have potential to influence the development of equity-oriented planning and resource allocation decision-making.
Areas of expertise
The work of CSIH encompasses multiple areas of expertise which are essential to the work of health systems strengthening. These include capacity building, health information systems, quality improvement, evidence informed decision making, infection prevention and maternal and child health.