Health systems


There remain many unanswered questions about how to develop and maintain well-functioning health systems. Understanding what makes some health systems function well while others do poorly is essential for making evidence-based decisions. There is a great need to promote development of new methodologies and better tools for research on health systems.


Health systems research needs to generate evidence that is of direct use to policymakers as they move towards universal coverage. Priority research areas include how to boost human resources and implement sustainable health financing systems; how to increase the use of effective healthcare methods and reduce ineffective ones, such as indiscriminate use of antibiotics and injections; and how to increase access to and use of health information.

Most health systems research to date has tended to be context-specific, which limits its application in other settings. Rigorous quantitative research is needed to provide an evidence base for reforming health systems. Translating this knowledge into action will be key to improving health.

Research Helpful resources

Health systems research

Alliance for health policy & systems research

WHO research tools

HINARI access to research initiative

Health systems

A well-functioning health system
working in harmony is built on having
trained and motivated health
workers, a well-maintained infrastructure,
and a reliable supply of medicines
and technologies, backed by adequate
funding, strong health plans and
evidence-based policies.