Strengthening health systems is at the root of our focus on sustainability. We have a core team dedicated to driving forward our activities and research in support of health system effectiveness and efficiency. By this we mean the functionality of a given health system to deliver the best known protocol for that specific context at the right time, delivered in a way that maximises the use of available resources (including knowledge, skills, financing, medical products and energy).
Frequently using the management of malaria as an entry point for broader health system effectiveness and efficiency, we provide technical assistance to health systems that includes expertise, training and tools to enhance their capacity for surveillance, outbreak response, referral, reporting and capacity, as well as market development.
Our health system strengthening activities occur at all levels – from the national level to remote communities – and include strengthening routine health information systems, providing guidance and strategic inputs for monitoring and evaluation, training health workers, creating and enabling effective referral systems, and supporting supply chain efficiency.
We also understand the need for reliable data in order to help timely decision making at all levels of the health system, and introduce new technologies and improving surveillance to allow better use of data.
Training and capacity building
We work with ministries of health to improve the quality of clinical processes. This can include performance management and quality improvement of health personnel, through the development of tools and guidelines to support clinical decision making by health workers, or through the introduction of improved data and commodity management systems. We are also using mentoring to strengthen the clinical skills base of health personnel.
The private sector
Because of the private sector’s high degree of visibility and its everyday interaction with affected populations, it is ideally placed to provide health services and products where public sector provision is limited. We therefore find and test ways for the private and public sectors to work together. We help strengthen the critical role of the private sector in distributing and promoting use of malaria rapid diagnostic tests, increasing uptake of injectable artesunate for severe malaria, producing long lasting insecticidal nets, and stimulating the creation of a stable market for the drugs needed for seasonal malaria chemoprevention.
One of our major areas of focus is to explore ways of using mobile and electronic technology to improve health outcomes – a concept known as digital strategies. Mobile phones, for example, have proven to be an effective tool in healthcare, allowing users, particularly community based health workers, to access and transmit data from remote locations, to stay in touch with their supervisors, to inform of supply stock-outs, and to use applications that guide them through the diagnosis and referral process. Technology has also been instrumental in tracking cases of malaria, especially in Asia where the spread of drug resistance is an increasing concern for governments and ministries of health.