The health sector is made up of the people, institutions and resources, arranged together in accordance with established policies, whose primary purpose is to promote, restore and maintain health. It includes government ministries and departments, hospitals and other health services, health insurance schemes, voluntary and private organizations in health, as well as the pharmaceutical industry and drug wholesale companies. In many developing countries, private not-for-profit health care providers constitute an important part of the health sector, sometimes owning up to half of a country's hospitals.
Health sector reform is a process that seeks major changes in national health policies, programmes and practices through changes in health sector priorities, laws, regulations, organizational structure and financing arrangements, such as user fees. The central goals are most often to improve access, equity, quality, efficiency and/or sustainability.
Policy coherence is an effort to ensure that policies in non-health sectors contribute to health sector objectives and vice versa. This is particularly important for health, which has multiple determinants: from working environment, to access to water and sanitation, to the quality of education provision (for example, female education is directly related to improved health for children and families). There are also links between economic, trade and fiscal polices which all help determine household incomes, and thus ability to access care.