Health systems

Health Systems Strengthening Glossary


Access (to health services): the perceptions and experiences of people as to their ease in reaching health services or health facilities in terms of location, time, and ease of approach. 1

Accessibility (of health services): aspects of the structure of health services or health facilities that enhance the ability of people to reach a health care practitioner, in terms of location, time, and ease of approach. 2

Accountability: the result of the process which ensures that health actors take responsibility of what they are obliged to do and are made answerable for their actions.

Accreditation: "accreditation is a formal process by which a recognized body, usually a non-governmental organization, assesses and recognizes that a health care organization meets applicable pre-determined and published standards. Accreditation standards are usually regarded as optimal and achievable, and are designed to encourage continuous improvement efforts within accredited organizations. An accreditation decision about a specific health care organization is made following a periodic on-site evaluation by a team of peer reviewers, typically conducted every two to three years. Accreditation is often a voluntary process in which organizations choose to participate, rather than one required by law and regulation.” 3

Accuracy: "the degree to which a measurement or an estimate based on measurements represents the true value of the attribute that is being measured." 4

Aid effectiveness: effectiveness of development aid in achieving economic or human development or development targets. 5According to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (see below) five principles are key to improved aid effectiveness: Ownership (partner countries exercise effective leadership over their development policies, and strategies and coordinate development actions); Alignment (donors base their overall support on partner countries' national development strategies, institutions and procedures); Harmonization (donors' actions are more harmonized, transparent and collectively effective); Managing for results (partner countries and donors shift focus to development results and results get measured); and Mutual Accountability (donors, partners and countries are accountable for development results). 6See Paris declaration.

Aid: (i) support to developing countries provided by countries, by international agencies, institutions, non-governmental organisations or foundations, to developing countries in the form of monetary grants, loans at low interest rates, in kind, or a combination of these. 7(ii) shorthand for “Overseas Development Aid”, i.e resource flows which qualify as Official Development Assistance or Official Aid according to criteria used by institutions such as the OECD. 8

Aid-in-kind: "flows of goods and services with no payment in money or debt instruments in exchange. In some cases, 'commodity aid' goods (such as grain) are subsequently sold and the receipts are used in the budget or, more commonly through a special fund, for public expenditure." 9

Alignment: the result of donors basing their support on the country's national development strategies, institutions and processes to increase development assistance coherence, synergy and effectiveness -. See Paris declaration.

Allocative efficiency: (i) the extent of optimality in distribution of resources among a number of competing uses. 10 (ii) the capacity of a system to distribute resources among competing activities, in a way that no alternative reallocation offers improvements in returns. Related to the comparative efficacy of interventions and to priority setting; (iii) an aggregate concept, referring to competing options, inside or outside the health sector, and to the scale of programmes. Allocative efficiency assumes that competing options work at the same level of technical efficiency.

Appropriate care: (i) care that meets the health needs of the entire population; (ii) care that is effective and based on the best available scientific evidence; (iii) interventions that are safe and that do not cause any harm or suffering; and priorities for the allocation and organization of resources that are based on equity and economic efficiency. 11

Assessment: " a formal process of evaluation of a process or system, preferably quantitative, but sometimes necessarily qualitative." 12

Audit:"the legal requirement for a corporation to have its balance sheet, financial statement, and underlying accounting system and records examined by a qualified auditor so as to enable an opinion to be formed as to whether the financial statement accurately represent the company's financial condition and whether they comply with relevant statutes."


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