Strengthening Health Systems in Developing Countries

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This is the Fifth Report of Session 2014–15 from the House of Commons International Development Committee. It focuses on how the recent ebola epidemic has demonstrated the importance of country health systems.

Launching the report on strengthening developing health systems, Sir Malcolm Bruce, Chair of the Committee, said today:

“The Ebola epidemic in West Africa was an avoidable tragedy that has served as a devastating reminder for what happens when health systems are weak.

To prevent similar tragedies in the future, it is essential that DFID places a clear priority on health systems strengthening and is vocal internationally to persuade other donors to follow its lead.

DFID has a good record on health but relies on international partners such as the Global Fund and the vaccine alliance, to spend an ever-greater proportion of the UK aid budget. To date these organisations have successfully delivered significant ‘quick wins’ by targeting specific diseases AIDS, Malaria and TB.

DFID must review its health-related funding arrangements to ensure that sufficient UK aid money spent on health is used to fund the development of sustainable systems capable of improving health outcomes over the longer term. It must also be prepared to withhold funds from organisations unwilling to take this approach.

DFID should make available more statistics about its spending and performance on the development of health systems, to prove that it is in practice delivering on the goals set out in its laudable strategy.

Internationally, DFID must do more to ensure other donor nations follow its lead, becoming a more vocal champion of health system strengthening on the world stage.”

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