‘Health System Strengthening’ Remains a Vague Concept, Should be Redefined, Researchers Say
Efforts to target specific diseases, like HIV/AIDS and malaria, in developing countries encounter obstacles when the local health infrastructure can't support the influx of services, a group of researchers from the Institute for Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium, write in a report that appeared Tuesday in PLoS Medicine. Specific health initiatives that aren't integrated in local systems can also have negative effects such as the wasteful duplication of services according to the researchers.
Strategies for "health system strengthening," while intended to combat these problems, lack consistency and "many [global health organizations] are doing no more than putting old wine in new bottles," write the researchers. Too many groups, the authors believe, apply the label to any "health-related capacity strengthening activity," rather than those that contribute to lasting infrastructure.
The researchers recommend redefining what health system strengthening means and include points to consider in forming a consensus on strengthening strategies (Bruno Marchal, et al., PLoS Medicine, 4/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.