Health Systems Strengthening

Good governance and using resources effectively are key factors in a well-functioning health sector. The SDC promotes strengthening health systems in developing and emerging countries. It advocates the development of universal health coverage and access to good-quality healthcare services for all.

The SDC's focus
Health financing
The SDC supports reforming the health sector in its partner countries based on in-depth studies of the local political, economic and social context. Thanks to its presence in these countries and its access to their governments, the SDC has a good understanding of the local contexts, which enables it to determine each country's existing needs. Here the SDC's goal is to ensure that the poorest people gain access to good-quality healthcare.
To achieve this goal, the SDC promotes the development of innovative financing and payment mechanisms for the health sector. The three priorities are: first, to increase the amount of money available to the health sector; second, to deploy these resources in a cost-efficient way that meets the needs that have been identified; and third, to distribute health costs more fairly and protect people from high costs through social security mechanisms.  The SDC's activities continue to be informed by national policies and priorities and are implemented in close cooperation with state, non-state and/or private partners in the health sector.


Governance and participation
The SDC works to improve health sector governance. To this end, it supports government bodies, NGOs and other actors who are committed to a culture of accountability, anti-corruption and transparency in the allocation and use of resources.
At the community level the SDC supports health promotion initiatives for disadvantaged and marginalised sections of the population and supports the inclusion of people from these population groups in local health systems. Thanks to this, health service users learn how to exercise their rights and take on personal responsibility for their health issues. This also improves how the health specialists deal with the particular needs of certain population groups and the high-quality services they can be offered.

Factors that determine health
High-quality health systems and provision of care are fundamentally important for a population's health. But there are other factors – social, economic, environmental – that have a substantial and often more important impact on health. It is estimated that up to 60% of a person's health is determined by their education level, sex, where they live or their social background.  These factors are known as health determinants in the area of international development cooperation.

Therefore, investing in reducing risk factors – such as environmental pollution, climate change, undernourishment or malnutrition, water, migration and poverty – are crucial for public health. The socioeconomic returns on such investments benefit societies because a healthy population has a higher rate of economic productivity and health costs are lower. That is why SDC projects systematically promote cooperation in different areas – such as water, agriculture and education, for example – in order to improve these health determinants.
The SDC's work also aims to encourage people to change their attitudes and to ensure that the poorest people know how to exercise their right to health and take on personal responsibility. To this end, the SDC works closely with other federal departments and offices such as the Human Security Division (HSD), the FDFA's Sectoral Foreign Policies Division (SFPD), the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

Under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Switzerland has committed itself to improving health for all at all ages. To this end, it is aiming over the long term to achieve universal health coverage and a coordinated approach to the social, economic, cultural and environmental determinants of health. A person's health is largely determined by the conditions in which they are born, live and work. That is why the SDC takes a multisectoral approach and supports cooperation between the health sector and others areas such as the environment, water, hygiene, education and food security, in order to ensure healthy lives and reduce social inequalities.
Thanks to Switzerland's globally sought-after expertise and quality products, it can help make healthcare provision in low and middle income countries more proficient, effective and based on actual needs. This includes the capacity of health systems to respond adequately to immediate and potential health emergencies – also an advantage over the long term for Switzerland.