Originally appeared in Global Health Magazine.
Over the last several decades, millions of dollars have been invested in capacity building interventions, and the chorus of capacity building enthusiasts continues to grow. Yet, both in description and practice, capacity building remains somewhat fuzzy. In many developing countries, one of the greatest obstacles to achieving the health MDGs - in particular those relating to child survival, maternal health, and combating major diseases such as HIV & AIDS - is the deep, persistent lack of organizational capacity among those responsible for attaining these goals.
Some of the essential capacity components that are often lacking include human capacity - adequate numbers of skilled, motivated and well distributed health providers who are supported by strong leadership; financial capacity - money management skills, financial accountability, and costing expertise; systems capacity - information and logistics, monitoring and evaluation, and governance structures and processes.