Health systems strengthening

Project description

Project title: Sector project on health systems strengthening
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global
Overall term: 2014 to 2017


Enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is a fundamental human right and a key prerequisite for sustainable social and economic development.

Effective health systems are of vital importance in this regard. Their role is to prevent disease, provide adequate care in the event of sickness and facilitate access for the entire population to proper, high-quality and effective health care.
Many people in developing and emerging countries do not have sufficient access to key health care services on account of inadequate health systems. Poorer population groups, in particular, do not receive adequate medical care owing to a lack of financial resources. The purpose of strengthening health systems is to provide these people with access to quality-assured health care with built-in financial security.


German development cooperation actors have positioned themselves effectively at the national and international levels on the issue of health systems strengthening. They mainstream coordinated approaches designed to strengthen health systems in partner countries.


The Health Systems Strengthening Project advises the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and other federal ministries, including the German Federal Ministry of Health (BMG), on strengthening health systems and global health care.

The project has three priority areas:

  1. Positioning German development cooperation effectively at the national and international levels in the area of health systems strengthening
    • The project supports BMZ's collaborative endeavours and membership of multilateral organisations, initiatives and bodies, including the International Health Partnership (IHP+), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Health Experts Group of the European Commission.
    • The project advises BMZ on implementation of the Healthy Systems – Healthy Lives roadmap, a joint German and WHO initiative. The objective of the roadmap is to improve and coordinate international support in partner countries with a view to strengthening their health systems.
  2. Addressing current political issues and implementing innovative approaches
    • The project develops innovative approaches to new global challenges, such as resistance to antibiotics, neglected tropical diseases, non-communicable diseases, e-health, and health systems in fragile states.
  3. Advising countries on the implementation, evaluation and documentation of measures to strengthen health systems
    • The project provides advisory services to health care programmes run by German technical cooperation actors in partner countries and implements measures to develop skills, resources and capacity with a view to strengthening local health systems and enabling them to respond to current challenges.

The project also supports German partner countries with involving private stakeholders in efforts to strengthen health systems and cooperates closely with the German and European health care industry.


Strengthening health systems helps to reduce the burden of disease and the death rate among the population. A health system that is effective, cost-efficient and socially just contributes indirectly to an improved quality of life, poverty reduction, conflict prevention and social stability. The project supports both international sectoral dialogue and political dialogue, for example within the G7 process or the process for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. And by providing technical process support for initiatives such as Healthy Systems – Healthy Lives and the transformation of IHP+, the project helps to mainstream the issue of health systems strengthening at the top level.

The project supports implementation of the BMZ special programme Health in Africa and played a major part in formulating the reference framework for the Training Programme for Health Care Professionals. This training programme aims to accelerate the introduction of other measures to provide training for and improve the working conditions of health care professionals.

The project helped to prepare and conduct the initial appraisal of the new regional project to support pandemic prevention in West and East Africa. In addition, the regional programme Health in Central Asia received technical support with developing and evaluating a blended learning course on sexual and reproductive health and rights.

By providing advisory services and support measures at the local level, it was possible to adapt projects at short notice to the developing situation in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, countries affected by outbreaks of Ebola.

The Epidemic Preparedness Team (SEEG), which forms part of the project, was deployed for the first time in Togo in May and July 2016, where it put in place the systems needed to diagnose Lassa fever. The first cases of Lassa, which is similar to the Ebola virus, were confirmed in the country in March. If large-scale spread of a disease is to be prevented, it is vital that further suspected cases are examined as quickly as possible. On behalf of BMZ, four experts representing the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM), the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and GIZ provided the Togolese laboratory with the necessary equipment and staff training.