Weak health systems constrain efforts to scale up primary health care and public health services in the South-East Asia Region. The challenge is to strengthen these in an equitable and accountable manner while, at the same time, effectively integrating vertical programmes into a comprehensive and horizontal ‘systems approach’. WHO's South-East Asia Regional Office is working to provide effective and appropriate resources and tools to meet the requests of ministries of health for support in developing strategic plans to accelerate health systems strengthening.
In 2005, the GAVI Alliance identified weak health systems as a bottleneck hindering the progress of achieving universal immunization coverage and allocated US$ 500 million to strengthen the support programme for country health systems. In 2008, GAVI added another US$ 300 million to expand the GAVI Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) Support programme.
Launched in 2000, the GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) is a public–private global health partnership. Governments in industrialized and developing countries, UNICEF, WHO, the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, nongovernmental organizations, vaccine manufacturers from industrialized and developing countries, and public health and research institutions work together as partners in an innovative partnership.
Quality and safety are serious concerns even in health systems that are well financed, staffed and resourced. The WHO South-East Asia Regional Committee resolution SEA/RC59/R3 on ‘Promoting patient safety in health care’, adopted by the fifty-ninth session of places patient safety at the centre of the drive to promote quality in health systems in the Region.
The Health Systems Management unit serves as the focal point for the work of the WHO patient safety programme in the Region. The unit also serves as the focal point for infection prevention and control in health care, effective and safe use of health technologies as well as organ and tissue transplantation.