K4D Learning Journey on Health Systems Strengthening

This Learning Journey aims to support DFID’s understanding, capacity and influence in strengthening health systems to improve the health and well-being amongst the poorest and marginalised in low- and middle-income countries. There is a particular focus on four topics – political economy analysis, leadership and governance of public service, health financing and universal health coverage (UHC); and two cross-cutting themes – quality of care and leave no-one behind. Coverage is also provided of the ‘evidence review of what works for health systems strengthening, where and when?’ commissioned by DFID from the ReBUILD and ReSYST research consortia and K4D helpdesk reports will be written to cover supply chain management, health information systems and human resources. This Learning Journey was developed by K4D in collaboration with DFID and with expert input from a range of partners.

Please note that this Learning Journey is currently ongoing so this webpage will be updated throughout the journey.

Who is this Learning Journey for?

This Learning Journey is designed for DFID health advisers, advisers with an interest in health, and staff working in the health sector, who want to update their knowledge and strengthen their competencies and skills on health systems strengthening (HSS).

Learning Journey Outcomes

By the end of the Learning Journey, participating DFID advisers will have developed their competencies and skills in advising and influencing national governments, global health institutions and other partners on:

  1. The strategic planning, implementation and monitoring of interventions to enhance national health policies and strategies for strengthening health systems
  2. Making compelling evidence-based cases for investments to enhance health
  3. Appraising the performance of HSS interventions

Learning Journey Activities

Presentation: Health systems strengthening – what is it, how should we assess it, and does it work?

This presentation was delivered as the first activity of the Learning Journey. In this presentation authors Sophie Witter, Dina Balabanova (LSHTM) and Sandra Mounier-Jack (LSHTM) reflect on the process of undertaking the evidence review ‘Evidence review of what works for health systems strengthening, where and when?’ commissioned by DFID. The evidence review explores what works for HSS and in what contexts, providing an evidence base to support DFID’s work. In this presentation they also draw out suggestions on definitions of HSS and approaches to assessment, as well as summarising some key conclusions from the current evidence base.

In addition to the presentation there is also a short interview with lead author Sophie Witter (Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh). In this video she outlines the key findings from the review, the complexity of the health system, the value and impact of health systems research more generally, and recommendations for DFID staff and other donors.

Both videos are also available as a HEART Talks page.

How to engage?

If you have any questions about this Learning Journey, please contact K4D at info@k4d.info.

Project details

start date
4 February 2020


About this project


Image of Paul Knipe
Paul Knipe

Research and Learning Programme Manager