MPs announce new inquiry into Health System Strengthening

10 April 2014

Health system strengthening is widely seen as vital for improving health. DFID stresses its importance in its recent Health Position Paper (published July 2013). The paper highlights a number of systems challenges which lead to poor quality health services: “lack of proper drugs and medical supplies; no means to responsibly refer patients; and inequitable distribution of health infrastructure, services and trained health workers.” It also stresses the importance of public health interventions.

The paper goes on to state:

DFID’s approach supports targeted cost-effective interventions and seeks to ensure that these interventions support the longer term development of a health system fit to meet the needs of the population. In some circumstances this means supporting private sector providers (for-profit or non-profit, formal or informal) to deliver more good quality essential health commodities and services to poor people, and helping to strengthen the capacity of governments to regulate these provides and to finance use of the services by the poor.

The International Development Committee has decided to undertake an inquiry into this topic to examine how effectively in practice DFID is implementing its objectives. It invites written submissions on the following issues:

  • The impact of weak health systems on the achievement of DFID's and global health and development goals, and the extent to which poor health systems risk undermining the entire development effort.
  • The effectiveness of DFID's current approach to health system strengthening, including:

o   DFID's support for the six building blocks of health system strengthening: health worker staffing; infrastructure; health commodities (such as equipment and medicines); logistics; tracking progress; effective financing.
o   DFID s support for evidence-based, cost effective health interventions
o   DFID's contribution to supporting the poorest countries to achieve Universal Health Coverage.
o   How well DFID ensures its programmes can be sustained once its funding has ended.

  • DFID s role in ensuring better balance between rural and urban healthcare.
  • The extent to which DFID should focus on public health and prevention.
  • The UK's work with other development agencies, partner governments, communities and civil society on health system strengthening; and co-ordination between DFID and other UK organisations.
  • The UK's role in ensuring post-2015 development goals support equitable an sustainable health systems, including women’s health.

NB. According to the World Health Organisation, strengthening health systems means addressing the following six issues:

o   health worker staffing
o   infrastructure
o   health commodities (such as equipment and medicines)
o   logistics
o   tracking progress
o   effective financing.

The Committee invites written submissions from interested organisations and individuals. The deadline for this is Monday 19 May 2014.  The Committee will consider requests for reasonable adjustments to its usual arrangements for taking evidence and publishing material, to enhance access. Please contact or telephone 020 7219 1223.

Please note
As part of a scheme to encourage paperless working and maximize efficiency, the Committee is piloting a new web portal for online submissions of written evidence. Written submissions for this inquiry should therefore be sent via the Health Systems Strengthening inquiry page. 

Written evidence submitted should:

Have a one page summary at the front
Be no longer than 3000 words in length
Have numbered paragraphs
Avoid the use of colour or expensive-to-print material

Image: iStockphoto

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