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'Good health at low cost' 25 years on - what makes a successful health system?
Date:10/17/2011

Even countries with a relatively low income can make big improvements to the health of their populations (particularly visible in the area of maternal and child health) by adopting a winning formula for strengthening health systems, according to a new study led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The research assessed the health systems of five countries (Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Tamil Nadu (India) and Thailand) that have achieved better health outcomes than neighbouring ones with similar incomes.

The researchers identified a set of common characteristics associated with success that have allowed the five study countries to make sustained progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), sometimes in the face of political uncertainty. Key success factors include: leadership by individuals with a commitment to health gain; capacity within the individuals and institutions necessary to design and implement health reform; continuity to provide the stability that is required for reforms to succeed; the ability to seize windows of opportunity; and the ability to take context into account in order to develop appropriate and relevant policies. The research has shown that piecemeal interventions, however sound by themselves, cannot improve health without long-term commitment and attention to health system building.

These conclusions emerge in 'Good health at low cost' 25 years on, published today. The book, edited by Dina Balabanova, Martin McKee and Anne Mills, brings together insights from a multi-country project involving researchers from institutions in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Tamil Nadu (India) and Thailand. This new research takes a fresh look at a question originally asked a quarter of a century ago: why are some poor countries able to achieve better health outcomes than others at similar levels of income?

In 1985 the Rockefeller Foundation published an influential report entitled Good
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Contact: Paula Fentiman
paula.fentiman@lshtm.ac.uk
020-792-72802
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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