Closing the Gap by Strengthening Health Systems

In many countries, the health system is undermined not only by a lack of resources, but a lack of systems to effectively manage the people, medicines, money, and information that contribute to improved health outcomes. The situation is especially acute in fragile and post-conflict states, where services are hampered by political instability, economic uncertainty, grave security concerns, and natural disasters. In such environments, there is an urgent need for large-scale responses that have a lasting impact on health.

Whether at the national or local level, it is critical that strong and efficient health systems be the foundation for health services. Without strong systems, countries will not be able link the pieces together to address global killers-such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria-and to promote maternal and child health, and reproductive health, including family planning.

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) works with policymakers and managers in developing countries to create long-term, sustainable approaches to support complex and evolving health infrastructure. MSH also helps governments reform their health policies, redesign health systems, and establish mechanisms to finance and provide equitable access to health care. At the community level, MSH helps strengthen community-based programs and services for their clients. MSH's role helps develop leadership and management capacities and systems and ensures that communities are engaged and empowered to continue on the path to better health.

As part of a global effort to improve the lives of millions by drawing attention to this critical role of health systems, MSH is participating in the 2005 Global Health Council Conference from May 31 to June 3, 2005 in Washington, DC. This year's conference theme is "Health Systems: Putting Pieces Together."

During the conference, MSH will share new lessons learned and innovative approaches to strengthening health systems that can be adapted to new settings and scaled up to larger populations. MSH's contributions to strengthening health systems in Brazil, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Malawi, Nicaragua, the Philippines, and South Africa; and worldwide will be shared through presentations.