“It is easier to complain about a problem than it is to create a solution.”

This statement goes against everything I believe in. Yet, the truth is, I am often guilty of shouting into the ether or holding up a sign with words of disdain rather than slogans of hope. Sometimes we need a reminder that advocacy and development are based in the belief that things can, and should, be better. Take the global healthcare system, for example.

Healthcare is a topic capable of evoking a range of emotions. Things can get messy when there are so many categories to address and systems to choose from. April 7 2018 was World Health Day, on which the World Health Organization (WHO) marked its 70th anniversary and reminded us of its work over the past 7 decades – for example, “to rid the world of killer diseases like smallpox and to fight against deadly habits like tobacco use” (WHO). Addressing health needs is important, but so is addressing healthcare systems.

What is a healthcare system, you might ask? Well, the basic goals are to keep people healthy, to treat sickness and to exchange payment for service in some way. To meet those goals, steps are identified in each country and those steps make up a healthcare system.

We asked our network here at Swedish Organization for Global Health to weigh in on what a perfect healthcare system would look like for them. Is it universal health coverage? Single-payer? Everyone receiving healthcare clinician training?

Our main question: what components make up a good healthcare system?

According to the WHO, these 6 components create a well-functioning healthcare system:

  • Healthcare Workforce
  • Health Financing
  • Health Governance
  • Research and Innovation
  • Service Delivery
  • Medical Products

And according to SOGH, these additional components are needed:

  • Affordability, accessibility and quality care
  • Insurance that is affordable, humanized and effective
  • Inclusivity for all people, of all types, for all services (no discrimination)
  • Collaboration between all health care sectors and workers
  • Communication between patient and health care workers
  • Support and access to continuing education for health providers

The above are ingredients of a good healthcare system. After these components are implemented, what’s next? What is needed to ensure quality, strength, and sustainability of good healthcare systems? 

Is there a perfect healthcare system that will work for all countries, everywhere? I would argue, when stripped away of negativity, that yes – there is. Is that system the same for each country? I believe that while some aspects may be the same, there is not one perfect global system. The goal of healthcare for all countries should be the same, though the means to get there can and will differ.

I urge you to examine your own country’s healthcare system, and to think about how it affects or serves you and how you contribute to it. Try doing so from a gendered lens. This is not a hopeless or utopian task! Our lives and the lives of our children depend on how their health is prioritized.

Once you’ve read, considered and formed some of your own opinions, do something about it. Grab some friends, the phone, your computer, and remember that you have power to create solutions. Try reading up on this Health Data site, or click around on other global health platforms. We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

“Humankind has become so much one family that we cannot ensure our own prosperity except by ensuring that of everyone else.” – Bertrand Russell

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