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What is health systems strengthening?

A well-functioning, inclusive health system is vital to ensure all people can get health care when they need it.

Here’s how Sightsavers helps to improve health care systems in the countries where we work.

A still from Sightsavers' video about health systems strengthening, showing an illustration of a doctor standing in a hospital doorway with patients waiting outside.

To ensure people stay healthy, we rely on health systems: groups of people, organisations and resources that maintain and restore the health of the population.

A health system can include doctors, nurses, hospitals and clinics, as well as occupational health services, health insurance, safety legislation, rehabilitation services and campaigns to reduce disease or encourage healthy behaviour.

To function properly, the system needs trained workers, a solid infrastructure, a reliable supply of medicine and equipment, and adequate funding. These services need to be available close to where people live, and must be accessible for all.

Yet the World Health Organization estimates that at least half of people in the world do not receive the health services they need, because services are either inaccessible, unavailable, unaffordable or of poor quality.

Sightsavers believes everyone should be able to receive quality, affordable health care when they need it, and should be given the information they need to maintain their health. This is why we work with partners to improve health services in the countries where we work. This is known as health systems strengthening.

A close-up of Esther Anyango wearing her hospital scrubs.

How Sightsavers is helping to strengthen health systems

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Information

We work with governments to provide high-quality data to back up their decision-making, so the right support is available to people who need it.

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Leadership

We share our knowledge and expertise with governments and local groups to ensure inclusive healthcare now, and in the future.

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Training

We train community volunteers and teach health professionals how to set up and deliver eye care, particularly in remote areas.

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Medicines

We provide medicines, preventative pills and spectacles to people who need them, at the right time and in the right place, in a cost-effective way.

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Funding

We provide evidence to encourage governments to continue funding essential training and services, such as remote operations in local communities.

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The result...

All these elements are building blocks that combine to create long-lasting healthcare systems suitable for everyone, wherever they live.

Health systems strengthening is a key part of Sightsavers’ programmes around the world.

We work alongside our partners to ensure that all of our programmes have a lasting impact to improve health services in the countries where they operate.

A still from Sightsavers health systems video, showing a group of people standing in a line: a family, an older man with a cane, a mother and child, and a couple.

Learn how we aim to make healthcare more inclusive

Sightsavers and inclusive health