health systems strengthening

An extensive body of work on access to and use of medicines has resulted in an assortment of tools measuring various elements of pharmaceutical systems. Until now however, there has been little attempt to conceptualize a pharmaceutical system as an entity and define its strengthening in a way that allows for measuring systems strengthening. The narrow focus of available tools limits their value in ascertaining which interventions result in stronger, more resilient systems. We sought to address this shortcoming by revisiting the current definitions, frameworks and assessment tools related to pharmaceutical systems. We conducted a comprehensive literature review and consulted with select pharmaceutical experts. On the basis of our review, we propose that a pharmaceutical system consists of all structures, people, resources, processes, and their interactions within the broader health system that aim to ensure equitable and timely access to safe, effective, quality pharmaceutical products and related services that promote their appropriate and cost-effective use to improve health outcomes. We further propose that pharmaceutical systems strengthening is the process of identifying and implementing strategies and actions that achieve coordinated and sustainable improvements in the critical components of a pharmaceutical system to make it more responsive and resilient and to enhance its performance for achieving better health outcomes. Finally, we established that, in addition to system performance and resilience, seven components of the pharmaceutical system are critical for measuring pharmaceutical systems strengthening: pharmaceutical products and related services; policy, laws and governance; regulatory systems; innovation, research and development, manufacturing, and trade; financing; human resources; and information.

In recent years, new global initiatives responding to the AIDS crisis have dramatically affected—and often significantly improved—how developing countries procure, distribute, and manage pharmaceuticals. A number of developments related to treatment scale-up, initially focused on AIDS-related products, have created frameworks for widening access to medicines for other diseases that disproportionally impact countries with limited resources and for strengthening health systems overall. Examples of such systems strengthening have come in the areas of drug development and pricing; policy and regulation; pharmaceutical procurement, distribution, and use; and management systems, such as for health information and human resources. For example, a hospital in South Africa developed new tools to decentralize provision of antiretroviral therapy to local clinics—bringing treatment closer to patients and shifting responsibility from scarce pharmacists to lower level pharmacy staff. Successful, the system was expanded to patients with other chronic conditions, such as mental illness. Progress toward universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support will continue the push to strengthen pharmaceutical sectors that serve not only HIV-related needs but all health needs; health experts can likely take these achievements further to maximize their expansion into the wider health system.

Ensuring that medicines which achieve important health outcomes are available, accessible to all, used appropriately, and sustainably affordable is essential for realizing universal health coverage. Stakeholder cooperation and use of information and financing system levers provide opportunities to work toward this goal.

This supplement to the Journal of Global Public Health is devoted to the re-development of the health system in Afghanistan beginning in 2002. It discusses the processes that were adopted by the Ministry of Public Health and its partners, and the activities of the non-governmental organisations that, for the most part, were responsible for overseeing the delivery of health services to the population. It also presents an overview of the results that were obtained during the ensuing 10 years.

Abstract In 2001, Afghanistan's Ministry of Public Health inherited a devastated health system and some of the worst health statistics in the world. The health system was rebuilt based on the Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS). This paper examines why the BPHS was needed, how it was developed, its content and the changes resulting from the rebuilding.

Performance-based financing is increasingly being applied in a variety of contexts, with the expectation that it can improve the performance of health systems. However, while there is a growing literature on implementation issues and effects on outputs, there has been relatively little focus on interactions between PBF and health systems and how these should be studied. This paper aims to contribute to filling that gap by developing a framework for assessing the interactions between PBF and health systems, focusing on low and middle income countries. In doing so, it elaborates a general framework for monitoring and evaluating health system reforms in general.

A few underlying facts drove the decision to create a new society for health systems research (HSR). There is growing acknowledgement that health systems performance problems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are a major impediment to making more rapid progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and ensuring universal health coverage.

From 2000 to 2010, Rwanda implemented comprehensive health sector reforms to strengthen the public health system, with the aim of reducing maternal and newborn deaths in line with Millennium Development Goal 5, among many other improvements in national health.

Drawing on evidence from Malawi and Ethiopia, this article analyses the eff ects of ARTscale-up interventions on human resources policies, service delivery and general health outcomes, and explores how synergies can be maximized.

After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the Afghan transitional government and international donors found the health system near collapse. Afghanistan had some of the worst health indicators ever recorded.

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