The health of the people living in Africa is generally low as exemplified by the low life expectancy, high morbidity and mortality rates, compared to other regions of the world. The high morbidity and mortality rates are attributed to the dual epidemics of communicable and non-communicable diseases and health conditions. A large proportion of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) lost from communicable diseases are mainly from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, diarrheal and respiratory tract diseases and malnutrition amongst children under five years of age. Road traffic accidents, maternal health conditions and other non-communicable diseases are also causing significant premature loss of lives and disability. These morbidities and premature loss of lives is having metastatic negative effects on the socio-economic development in most African countries. It is painful to note that much of the ill health, disease, premature death, and suffering associated with the aforementioned communicable and non-communicable health conditions we see are needless, as effective and affordable interventions are available for prevention and treatment.

There is no argument about the power of the existing prevention and treatment interventions in circumventing the morbidities and mortalities due to both communicable and non-communicable diseases. However, as Dr Margaret Chan, the former World Health Organization (WHO) Director General points out, “the power of existing interventions is not matched by the power of health systems to deliver them to those in greatest need, in a comprehensive way, and on an adequate scale”.

Therefore, there is need for authorities charged with improving health and those that support them in the improvement of health to become more innovative and to institute pareto efficient and effective programs that strengthens all the building blocks of a health system. It is only when these building blocks, identified by World Health Organization (WHO) as human resources for health, financing and social protection, strategic health information, medical supplies and technology, governance and leadership, and service delivery function optimally will the powerful available medical and social interventions reach the persons in need. The health stewards should be able to work more harmoniously with other sectors and actors in groups or as individuals that directly or indirectly influence health. We are convinced that in order for these actors to effectively manage robust health systems that deliver personal and public health care efficiently and equitably, there is need for support in a number of areas including;-

  • The availing of evidence of what works as they make health and healthy public policies.
  • Improving the skills and knowledge of health policy makers and implementers at all health system levels through in-services training and mentorship in health systems management.
  • Provision of baseline information before public health interventions.
  • Designing and/or adopting tools for health system performance measurement.
  • Evaluation of health intervention activities and programs and sharing best practices.

A number of non-government organizations continue to support various aspects of health services delivery in Africa. Majority of these organizations tend to support specific prevention and treatment interventions with little focus on health system strengthening. However, there is consensus that for improved health outcomes in Africa there is need to focus on health system strengthening and there are no short-term fixes to existing and future health systems challenges.

It is based on this background that this multi-disciplinary group of experts with special interest on health system strengthening decided to form, ACHSD, a think-tank organization that will operate primarily within Africa. But in doing its work, it will continuously strive to work in collaboration and partnership with international academic centres of excellence, national governments, non-government organizations, and the local communities. The organization aims to provide a wide range of technical and advisory services including provision of evaluation expertize of programs and policies that are directed towards the health of the population. It will also participate and/or lead in health system strengthening actions including gathering relevant high-quality information that can be used to positively influence policies that affect the health of the population. In addition, ACHSD will participate in strengthening the technical capacity of health policy implementers in managing health systems and provoking the public into constructive debate in matters that affect their health.