According to the World Health Organization, a health system is the people, institutions and resources, arranged together in accordance with established policies, to improve the health of a population.
Health systems are part of the social fabric of any country, offering value beyond health. Their wider goals include equity, or fairness, in the distribution of health and the costs of financing the health system, as well as protection for households from the catastrophic costs associated with illness; responsiveness to the expectations of the population; and the promotion of respect for dignity.
Health systems operate at and across different levels, focusing on local and national health systems, but recognizing that health systems are often strongly influenced by wider international contexts.
Improving health systems
The vision of Health Systems Global is that globally connected health systems research and policy communities contribute to the attainment of better health, equity and wellbeing – in other words, that these communities contribute to the improvement of health systems.
Improving health systems and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires a holistic and integrated approach to tackling poverty, inequity, health and other challenges, as part of a broad development agenda.
The SDGs remind us of the complexity of human health and the systems that support it.
Attaining the SDGs requires practitioners, policymakers, researchers, citizens, and other actors to learn together about how to re-think, re-design and strengthen health systems to improve the health and health care of all people.