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Health system outcomes

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Health systems have multiple goals.[1] The world health report 2000[2]defined overall health system outcomes or goals as improving health and health equity in ways that are:

  • responsive
  • financially fair
  • make the best, or most efficient, use of available resources.

There are also important intermediate goals: the route from inputs to health outcomes is through achieving greater access to, and coverage for, effective health interventions without compromising efforts to ensure provider quality and safety.

The health systems access framework[3]

Countries try to protect the health of their citizens. They may be more or less successful, and more or less committed, but the tendency is one of trying to make progress, in three dimensions:

  • First, countries try to broaden the range of benefits (programmes, interventions, goods, services) to which their citizens are entitled.
  • Second, they extend access to these health goods and services to wider population groups and ultimately to all citizens: the notion of universal access to these benefits.
  • Finally, they try to provide citizens with social protection against untoward financial and social consequences of taking up health care. Of particular interest is protection against catastrophic expenditure and poverty.

In health policy and public health literature, the shorthand for these entitlements of universal access to a specified package of health benefits and social protection is universal coverage.

This section of the health systems profile is structured as follows:

3.1.2 General overview and systemic outcomes Overall health system status Achievement of the stated objectives of the health system The distribution of health system’s costs and benefits across the population Efficiency of resource allocation in health care Technical efficiency in the production of health care Quality of care Contribution of the health system to health improvement
3.1.3 Priorities and ways forward


  1. Everybody’s business. Strengthening health systems to improve health outcomes. WHO’s framework for action (pdf 843.33kb). Geneva, World Health Organization, 2007
  2. The world health report 2000. Health systems: improving performance (pdf 1.65Mb). Geneva, World Health Organization, 2000
  3. The world medicines situation (pdf 1.03Mb). Geneva, World Health Organization, 2004