Helping public sector health systems innovate: the strategic approach to strengthening reproductive health policies and programs

Am J Public Health. 2006 Mar;96(3):435-40. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2004.059907. Epub 2006 Jan 31.


Public sector health systems that provide services to poor and marginalized populations in developing countries face great challenges. Change associated with health sector reform and structural adjustment often leaves these already-strained institutions with fewer resources and insufficient capacity to relieve health burdens. The Strategic Approach to Strengthening Reproductive Health Policies and Programs is a methodological innovation developed by the World Health Organization and its partners to help countries identify and prioritize their reproductive health service needs, test appropriate interventions, and scale up successful innovations to a subnational or national level. The participatory, interdisciplinary, and country-owned process can set in motion much-needed change. We describe key features of this approach, provide illustrations from country experiences, and use insights from the diffusion of innovation literature to explain the approach's dissemination and sustainability.

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Public Sector / organization & administration*
  • Reproductive Health Services / economics
  • Reproductive Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Systems Theory
  • World Health Organization