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systems-thinkingIn its "Ten steps to systems thinking," the report shows how we can better capture the wisdom of diverse health system stakeholders in designing solutions to system problems. It suggests ways to more realistically forecast how health systems might respond to system-strengthening interventions, while also exploring potential synergies and dangers among those interventions.

Health systems strengthening is rising on political agendas worldwide. This Report will deepen understanding and stimulate fresh thinking among stewards of health systems, health systems researchers, and development partners.

Health system strengthening often seems a distant, even abstract aim. However, at a time when economic downturn, a new influenza pandemic, and climate change add to our collective challenges, the need for robust health systems is more acute than ever.

Systems thinking: To understand and appreciate the relationships within systems, several recent projects have adopted systems thinking to tackle complex health problems and risk factors – in tobacco control, obesity and tuberculosis. On a broader level, however, systems thinking has huge and untapped potential, first in deciphering the complexity of an entire health system, and then in applying this understanding to design and evaluate interventions that improve health and health equity.

Systems thinking can provide a way forward for operating more successfully and effectively in complex, real-world settings. It can open powerful pathways to identifying and resolving health system challenges, and as such is a crucial ingredient for any health system strengthening effort.

Publisher: WHO, 2009