Zooming out from healthcare to systems thinking

I’ve written about health systems in a few other places recently: a post on Humanosphere talks about health systems in general, and a post on Reboot’s blog looks at lessons from governance reform. Both posts were sparked by a recent event hosted by the Center for Global Development, Population Services International, and others.

One of the big takeaways from the event was the need for the global health sector to renew its focus on health systems strengthening. Experts from several organizations and donors acknowledged the successes of disease-specific approaches in recent years, but highlighted how enabling environments and system-level interventions hold promise for improving health outcomes across multiple conditions. Thinking about systems is important in global health and, more broadly, international development.

However, there are several distinctions to be made as we zoom out from health to the systems surrounding it. At the risk of being pedantic, I want to slice up our thinking into four levels. Continue reading