Health service planning contributes to policy dialogue around strengthening district health systems: an example from DR Congo 2008-2013

BMC Health Serv Res. 2014 Oct 31:14:522. doi: 10.1186/s12913-014-0522-4.


Background: This case study from DR Congo demonstrates how rational operational planning based on a health systems strengthening strategy (HSSS) can contribute to policy dialogue over several years. It explores the operationalization of a national strategy at district level by elucidating a normative model district resource plan which details the resources and costs of providing an essential health services package at district level. This paper then points to concrete examples of how the results of this exercise were used for Ministry of Health (MoH) decision-making over a time period of 5 years.

Methods: DR Congo's HSSS and its accompanying essential health services package were taken as a base to construct a normative model health district comprising of 10 Health Centres (HC) and 1 District Hospital (DH). The normative model health district represents a standard set by the Ministry of Health for providing essential primary health care services.

Results: The minimum operating budget necessary to run a normative model health district is $17.91 per inhabitant per year, of which $11.86 is for the district hospital and $6.05 for the health centre. The Ministry of Health has employed the results of this exercise in 4 principal ways: 1.Advocacy and negotiation instrument; 2. Instrument to align donors; 3. Field planning; 4. Costing database to extract data from when necessary.

Conclusions: The above results have been key in the policy dialogue on affordability of the essential health services package in DR Congo. It has allowed the MoH to provide transparent information on financing needs around the HSSS; it continues to help the MoH negotiate with the Ministry of Finance and bring partner support behind the HSSS.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Developing Countries
  • Health Planning*
  • Health Policy*
  • Hospitals, District / economics
  • Hospitals, District / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Organizational Objectives