WHO Steps Forward with New Initiative on Smarter Governance in Health Systems

Jim Rice

Former LMG Project Director

How can health system leaders better understand and apply new insights in to smart governance?

The World Health Organization (WHO) sees governance for health as a new challenge and strategic imperative in the global pursuit of stronger health systems and greater health outcomes.

To help sharpen the focus on what is meant by governance within the health sectors of high- and low-income countries, a panel of international researchers and practitioners were invited to the WHO offices in Geneva to examine answers to such varied questions as:

  • What is good governance at all levels of the health system?
  • Why is good governance so important in the global march to health gains that are both significant and sustainable?
  • How should the WHO best position itself as a meaningful leader and contributor in the journey to smarter governance in the world’s health systems?

Jim Rice, project director for the LMG Project was recently invited by David Evans, Director of the Department of Health Systems Governance and Financing (HGF) to collaborate on behalf of Management Sciences for Health and USAID in WHO’s most recent response to the challenges of improving governance for health. This new department is a merger of the Department of Health Systems Financing, the Department of Health Policy and Workforce and the International Health Partnerships (IHP+).

This group is forming a special advisory technical working group to look not just at the modeling tool, referred to as The OneHealth Tool, but key concepts and practices in highly effective governing bodies and processes that can shape the effective use of this new tool. Our previous blog on good governance that supports evidence based health care and the OneHealth web portal offer more information.

These activities within WHO can draw upon the work on governing within the National Health Service of the UK and the European Offices of WHO also published an important report on the value of good governance for health in the 21st century. NORAD from Norway is also investing substantial funding to encourage global attention to patterns of governance for health, especially in ministries of health.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine also has a special group examining patterns of governance as a means for health systems strengthening. Their Health Economics and Systems Analysis Group (HESA) aims to undertake high quality research to improve the knowledge base relating to health system performance in low and middle income countries.

Additional insights into smart governance at the health facility level and a well-crafted paper that outlines the governance and financing mechanisms.

This is a good evolution for WHO and It's great that Management Sciences for Health - the Leadership, Management and Governance Program is connecting your learning and initiatives for improving governance with WHO efforts.