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Strengthening Health Systems

KIT’s Health Systems Strengthening team works to improve the cohesion and performance of health systems as a means to provide all people with equitable access to quality health services. Our work focuses on the health systems of low-and middle-income countries (LMIC), as well as states experiencing fragility, conflict and violence.

Advancing Universal Health Coverage

Effective health systems are essential to achieve universal health coverage (UHC), one of the key targets of the sustainable development goals. Strong and resilient health systems enable countries to respond to shocks, such as Ebola, Zika and COVID-19, while continuing to deliver essential health services and protect against infectious and non-communicable diseases. 

Our approach to health systems strengthening 

Our team facilitates the complex, multi-stakeholder processes of health system re-design. Understanding and incorporating the voices of the people and communities that rely on health systems is central to our approach.  

Our work is grounded in three primary services, which together contribute to more effective and sustainable health systems:  

  • We co-create and develop knowledge, together with partners in LMICs, about how to strengthen health systems, including  applied research and , monitoring and evaluation.  
  • We develop research and operational capacity through tailor-made training programmes and on-the-job mentoring and coaching. We provide this support to  individuals (health professionals), organisations (professional associations, civils society organizations, NGOs, private sector) and institutes (health ministries, universities)  
  • We provide advice and technical input for the re-design of health systems, HSS programmes, and multi-sectoral approaches to health and policymaking. This includes policy guidance and change management plans, training curricula, and monitoring and evaluation frameworks. 

Our team & expertise

Our multidisciplinary team has decades of experience facilitating health system re-design in a diversity of contexts around the world. We come from a wide range of disciplines—as health scientists, political scientists, global health specialists— and specialise in bringing together different forms of knowledge that transcend disciplinary boundaries: the knowledge of communities, healthcare professionals and policy makers. We also draw on the expertise of KIT advisors working in epidemiology, sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender.

Our work emphasises the following approaches and methods: 

  • We apply a system thinking approach, focusing on the interconnections between different health system components, sectors and contexts that produce effective health system performance.
  • We use participatory methods to co-create knowledge. We strive for real, tangible participation from a broad range of actors (health ministries, communities, health professionals, etc.) to enhance health system accountability, responsiveness and inclusive change.
  • We work with transdisciplinary teams and approaches to cross traditional borders of ‘expert’ and ‘client’, and to explore new ways of contributing to health system challenges, such as One Health (holistic public health approach linking people, plants, animals and their environment).
  • We apply innovative/state of the art methods to researching HSS and HSS approaches – such as design thinking – to put people and communities at the centre of the health system.
  • We use contextualised approaches in our HSS work to unravel how and why some things work—while others don’t—and with whom they work and where. At its core, we seek a deeply contextualised understanding of issues faced by end users in the health system.
  • We reflect on our research and practice to continue learning about and improve our ways of working.

Our team

Photo of Barend Gerretsen

Barend Gerretsen

Team Leader Health Systems Strengthening

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Photo of Ankie van den Broek

Ankie van den Broek

Senior Advisor

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Photo of Yme van den Berg

Yme van den Berg

Senior advisor

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Photo of Marjolein Dieleman

Marjolein Dieleman

Senior Advisor

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Photo of Fernando Maldonado Costa

Fernando Maldonado Costa

Coördinator Education and Head of MIH programme

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Harry Coleman

Health Systems Strengthening Advisor

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Aniek Woodward

Research Associate STRENGTHS project

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Photo of Irina Wagner-Stirbu

Irina Wagner-Stirbu

Senior Advisor

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Photo of Elisabeth Kleipool

Elisabeth Kleipool

Junior Advisor

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Photo of Ingrid Zuleta

Ingrid Zuleta

Health System Strengthening Advisor

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Photo of Olivier Onvlee

Olivier Onvlee

Junior Advisor

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Our Partners

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dutchGlobalHealthAlliance
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healthSystemsGlobal
Logo of the DFID