Posted by: brittanyng | June 10, 2010

The six building blocks to making an efficient health system:

Unfortunately, the evidences of weakened and inefficient health systems are all around us.  Perhaps fragmented information and multiple patient records will hinder a doctor’s ability to make the best diagnostic and care decision.  If a program is under resourced, certain standardized care processes can be neglected.  Family Health International explains that a health system is a complex organization, and so its performance will depend on man components and their interactions.  In order to strengthen this complex of components in the health system, you must be able to identify issues that interfere with provisions of services and then introduce systems changes that will result in sustainable improvements (not quick fixes). 

Before being able to address how to strengthen health systems, it may be wise to consider what factors make up a functioning health system.  You can’t strengthen something you don’t understand.  The World Health Organization has recently defined the six building blocks of a health system in their report “Everybody’s Business:  Strengthening Health Systems to Improve Health Outcomes“:

1. Health services must be efficient, effective, and accessible.

2. A number of well-trained staff should be available.

3. Health information systems should generate useful data on health determinants and health system performance.

4. Access to medicines, vaccines, and medical technologies must be equitable.

5. Health financing systems must raise adequate funds for health, ensuring that people can access affordable services.

6. Leadership must guarantee effective oversight, regulation, and accountability.

Using these six blocks to first evaluate the health system of a community or developing country will better allow us to know where the greatest need for improvement is in the system and then better strengthen that aspect.  

Take a moment to consider how your community’s health system compares to the six blocks.  Are you provided with a functioning health system?



  1. am interested in knowing if you can include supply management in your six building blocks for health systems.

    • No 4 on the list ( access to edicines and appropriate technologies ) encompasses SCM as a contributor to the HSS activities.

  2. In a country like Pakistan, with a history of subsequent natural and man made disasters, there should be a seventh building block which could act like a cushion to reduce or to mitigate the intensity of the disaster. Spending huge financing on six building blocks without disaster risk reduction, mitigation and preparedness measures, the well articulated system in six building blocks seems like to collapse after every disaster.
    Second: Ensuring the health system based on six building blocks seems to me like building castles in the air. Developing countries and especially fragile states are sinking just because of their poor economy. For an ideal health system mentioned in six building block, someone needs huge resources mobilization through UN, bilateral donors, multilateral or states funds but who will take that initiative. So far, the donors have their own priorities, states have own priorities and even UN has vertical sectoral approach.
    Policy being a very important subject is given least representation in the six building blocks

    Dr. Rasheed Ahmed

  3. Why visitors still use to read news papers when in this technological globe the whole thing is existing on net?

  4. Six building block may failed due to lack of health employees

  5. Leadership of gov’t is the most important key in strengthening the health system. Partners, like GAVI, can set an indicator for making the state governments accountable to sure they take this agenda very serious.

    • Indeed Leadership steers any system. The Health Care System lack visionary leaders, but no leader is held accountable unless there is a legislative agenda to do so.

  6. The Blocks are actualy reflective of health systems

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