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Groundbreaking Report Links Health Systems Strengthening Interventions to Health Outcomes

On July 28 USAID’s Office of Health Systems (OHS) released a major new report that for the first time presents a significant body of evidence linking health systems strengthening interventions to measurable impacts on health outcomes. The report, “Impact of Health Systems Strengthening on Health” identifies 13 types of health systems strengthening (HSS) interventions with quantifiable effects.
The report draws on evidence identified in 66 systematic reviews – which together cover more than 1,500 individual peer-reviewed studies – on the effects of HSS interventions on health status and outcomes.
Ariel Pablos-Mendez, Assistant Administrator, USAID Bureau for Global Health, and Child and Maternal Survival Coordinator, spoke at a launch event at USAID’s Global Health offices in Crystal City, Va. on July 28.
“We all agree on the importance of building sustainable health systems, but it’s harder to appreciate the importance of HSS investments at the country level,” Pablos-Mendez said. “This exercise is allowing us to share the first wave of the impact of health systems strengthening interventions. This is paramount and it is an important step for us.”
The report, authored by a team from the Abt Global-led Health Finance and Governance project, presents evidence on how to strengthen health system performance to achieve sustainable health improvements at scale, particularly toward ending preventable child and maternal deaths, fostering an AIDS-Free Generation, and protecting communities against infectious diseases. Many of the interventions straddle several health system functions, and often overlap or are implemented in combination.  
The interventions examined in the report were found to be associated with reductions in mortality at different stages in the life cycle as well as reductions in morbidity for a range of conditions—acute and chronic and infectious and non-infectious, including diarrhea, malnutrition, low birth weight, and diabetes. HSS interventions are also associated with improvements in service utilization, financial protection, and quality service provision, all important outcomes on the pathway to improved health.
“This groundbreaking report marks a milestone in our path towards identifying concrete evidence of the capacity of health systems strengthening interventions to save lives,” said Karen Cavanaugh, Director of OHS, at the event.
Read the synopsis or the full report.
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