Strong health systems are efficient, effective, and provide access to essential, quality health services for every community. Health systems are the institutions, resources, people, and communities focused on improving health — including hospitals, workers, pharmacies, vaccines, technologies, policies, and business practices, as well as financial, information, and communications systems. Health systems strengthening (HSS) refers to the activities that improve a health system’s efficiency, quality, accessibility, or effectiveness.
Strong health systems — even in areas of conflict or weakened security — help ensure outbreaks are contained, epidemics are prevented, and other emerging health threats are detected early. Such systems provide quality services to communities with the least access to care and the most marginalized populations, including women, children, the rural poor, and religious and ethnic minorities.
Strong health systems also support overall economic growth, reduced poverty, and sustainable progress in global health. Functioning public and private health systems are essential for the success of disease-specific initiatives and for meeting U.S. commitments to address global health security threats, end preventable maternal and child deaths, and combat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
U.S. leadership has a unique policy opportunity to invest in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and other partners who are working to create strong, sustainable health systems, that in turn, support self-reliance. What makes this moment unique is the rapid economic growth currently enabling many countries to show interest in ending their dependence on development assistance and in financing essential HSS with their own resources.