Health services development

About the Health Services Development Unit

Good health services deliver effective, safe, high-quality care to those who need them with a minimum waste of resources. An effective health system improves people’s lives tangibly every day – whether it is a school providing immunizations, a regulation encouraging cessation of tobacco use, or a person with HIV/AIDS receiving antiretroviral medicine and care at an affordable clinic.

However, across the Region there are large gaps in coverage of needed health services, plus low-quality services that does not help people improve their health or address inequities.

WHO’s Health Services Delivery Unit works closely with countries to support them to build robust national health plans, strengthen health systems to attain universal coverage and engage in national policy dialogue.

National health plans

National health policies, strategies and plans lay out the context, vision, objectives and spending priorities for health within the country's broader development context. Although they are important for countries regardless of their economic stage, they play a particularly pivotal role in settings where overseas aid is used to help fund health systems. Low- and middle-income countries are increasingly aware of the need for a national plan to guide the use of both domestic and overseas resources, reducing the risk of distortions that occur when resources are not deployed systematically towards national health objectives.

In this regard, WHO’s role as a non-funding, membership-based organization is particularly valuable to help countries negotiate with donors and funding agencies.

The WHO Health Systems Framework

WHO has defined a health system as "all organizations, people and actions whose primary intent is to promote, restore or mainatin health". Good health services are further defined as those which "deliver effective, safe, quality personal and non-personal interventions to those who need them, when and where needed, with minimum waste of resources".

Health systems are complex. It is useful to analyse health systems by looking at their component parts or functions. For the system to function optimally, all parts must be balanced and coordinated.

WHO has specified a framework with six building blocks that can be used as a tool for analysis of a health system. The six blocks include leadership, human resources, information, medical products and technology, financing, and service delivery. Intermediate outputs lead to the desired health outcomes.



Contact Us

Health Services Development Unit

P.O. Box 2932
1000 Manila
Telephone: (+63 2) 528 8001
Fax: (+63 2) 521 1036