Despite focused health policies and a reform agenda Kenya has not made a breakthrough in improving the situations of households entrapped in the vicious cycle of poverty and ill health. Consequently, Great Lakes University of Kisumu developed and tested a model for facilitating improvement in the performance of the District Health System (DHS) and, hence, the health status of poor households served. The model consisted of evidence-based dialogue between the communities and service providers, working with service consumers as partners in improving service delivery and outcomes. The study was undertaken in partnership with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Communities. The model was tested by introducing it in selected sites and carrying out health facility and household sample surveys at the beginning of the intervention and two years later in both intervention and control sites. Among the key improvements noted were: governance and management of the health system; service delivery and health outcomes in terms of immunisation coverage; usage of insecticide treated nets; and utilisation of skilled attendance at childbirth. Based on the results, the Kenyan MOH adopted the model as a strategy for the implementation of the Kenya Essential Package for Health countrywide. The University developed the implementation guidelines and training materials for rolling out the strategy countrywide.