Getting on the same page: the concept and assessment of ‘health systems strengthening’

8 April 2021

This webinar, on Wednesday 19th May 2021, explored the latest thinking on the conceptualisation of health systems strengthening (HSS) and the prospects for adopting shared tools and approaches for its assessment.

The session fed into work by researchers at national and international levels, and into interagency work on improving international support to evidence-based HSS. Particular focus was given to the findings of the 2019 and 2021 reports Evidence review of what works for health systems strengthening, where and when?, which were commissioned by the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) from the ReBUILD for Resilience and ReSYST research consortia.


Dr Kabir Sheikh
(policy adviser at Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research [opens in new window])

Kabir chaired the session.

Professor Sophie Witter (ReBUILD for Resilience research co-director)

Sophie discussed the challenges highlighted in the Evidence review of what works for health systems strengthening, where and when? reports, focusing on concepts, the state of evidence (including for fragile and conflict-affected settings), and the tools for assessment. She emphasised the urgent need to work on a collective knowledge building programme.

Jo Keatinge (HSS advisor to FCDO [opens in new window])

Jo outlined how FCDO understands HSS and is using it to inform policy and programming. She also considered how the recent evidence review was used to inform thinking on the department’s HSS position paper and will discuss future priorities.

Dr Olga Bornemisza (Health Systems Senior Advisor at The Global Fund [opens new window])

Olga outlined how global health initiatives engage with HSS, plus the challenges and experiences of harmonisation across multilateral organisations.

Dr Sushil Baral (HERD International)

Sushil considered how HSS looks at a national level. Are our frameworks helping us to conceptualise it in a way that supports national and sub-national engagement and monitoring? Do we have the right indicators and tools?

Dr Natasha Palmer (ITAD [opens new window])

The review raised important questions on the evaluation of HSS. Natasha considered these and how they are being taken forward with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She also discussed evaluation (frameworks and methods), planned outputs of this interagency work and questions for group feedback.

A recording of this webinar will be made available soon.