The Department for International Development's (DFID) approach to strengthening health systems seeks to diagnose critical problems and identify needs for strengthening in each country. This enables us to design the best response and set appropriate priorities, including assessing the needs of women and girls, their use of services and any barriers they face. There may be a need for targeted services or approaches to reach specific groups, such as reproductive health services for adolescent girls. DFID also recognises that monitoring the implementation and results of health systems strengthening needs a gender dimension to see if strategies are working.
Progress on strengthening health systems in poor countries is also vital if we are to accelerate progress towards achieving the maternal health millennium development goal. This is why, along with UN health agencies and a wide range of donors and country partners, DFID has championed the International Health Partnership designed to strengthen health systems and improve in-country donor coordination. To help ensure that investments in health systems reach women and children we are working with countries to help remove barriers that stop poor people using health services. This includes support to countries to remove health user fees so that services for children and pregnant women are free at the point of use.