Health systems

Health systems: key expected results

WHO advises and assists countries to develop responsive and resilient health systems that are centred on people’s needs and circumstances.

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. At the same time, because of the interconnectedness of our globalised world, health systems need to have the capacity to control and address global public health threats such as epidemic diseases and other severe events.

Our goals

  • Enough health workers are trained and motivated to meet countries’ needs
  • All countries have a functioning civil registration and vital statistics system
  • Essential medicines and other health technologies are safe, effective and affordable
  • Countries have solid national health plans that make optimal use of available
  • Resources Patients are protected from hospital-acquired infection and other harm when they seek care
  • Health systems are resilient and responsive to meet needs in outbreaks and other emergencies

Our priority

Advance universal health coverage to ensure all people have access to quality health services without facing financial hardship.

Key expected results

115 national health strategies

115 Countries with comprehensive national health strategies. National health policies, strategies, and plans play an essential role in defining a country's vision, priorities, budgetary decisions and course of action for improving and maintaining the health of its people.

25 reviewed

25 Countries with their national health strategy reviewed. Most countries have been using the development of national health policies, strategies, and plans for decades to give direction and coherence to their efforts to improve health.

100 prequalified

100 New medicines and other health technologies prequalified. The prequalification process is complex and involves thorough review of good manufacturing practices and quality assurance. The validity of the prequalification status of a product is reassessed in regular intervals and is continuously updated.

159 policies updated

159 Countries with national medicine and health technology policies updated. WHO supports Member States in country/intercountry, regional efforts to develop, implement and monitor the effectiveness of national medicines and health technology policies, guidelines, strategies and plans that ensure the availability, affordability and rational use of medicines and technology that are safe, effective and of good quality.

35 investment plans

Countries with an investment plan for increasing the number of skilled health workers. A strong human infrastructure is fundamental to closing today’s gap between health promise and health reality, and anticipating the health challenges of the 21st century.

More work is needed

50% of births unregistered

Almost half of all births and two-thirds of all deaths go unregistered every year.

statistics in only 34 countries

Only 34 countries submit high-quality cause-of-death statistics.

4 million health workers needed

The world faces a shortfall of more than 4 million health workers and 57 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia, have insufficient workers to provide minimum standards of care.

health < 15% of budget

Only 6 of 53 African countries meet the Abuja commitment of allocating at least 15% of their domestic budgets to health.

recruitment: 32 countries

Three years after its adoption, only 32 countries have taken steps to implement WHO’s Global code of practice on the international recruitment of health personnel, and the majority of these are in the European Region.

16 times more for medicines

Some people are forced to pay up to 16 times more for their medicines in the private sector because of a scarcity of medicines in the public sector.