African Health Initiative: Why Put Health Systems First?
December 18, 2020
Improving human health across a large population cannot be achieved by taking isolated approaches focused solely on combatting particular diseases. A country without a well-functioning primary health care system will always struggle to meet the challenges of any epidemic or health crisis. Further, many of the medical issues affecting the largest numbers of people do not fall under the umbrella of any particular disease area. Putting health systems first—strengthening the entire foundational health system with an integrated network of learning, approaches and solutions—is essential to saving lives.
It is with this understanding that the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation crafted the strategy for the African Health Initiative. There are three components we see as critical to the success of any effort by a funder to strengthen a health system: 1) supporting countries in owning the solutions that address weaknesses in their systems, 2) enabling the creation of learning systems by buoying the timely collection and application of data to resolve issues, and 3) building partnerships between the key stakeholders that play distinct and interconnected roles in strengthening public health. Learn more in this video about the origins of the African Health Initiative and how we execute these elements in our work in places such as Ghana, Mozambique and other sub-Saharan countries.