Former WHO chief highlights the importance of health systems

Gro Harlem Brundtland: We must empower countries to build their own health systems.

The international development community needs to rethink its strategy for health systems strengthening — a current buzz topic following the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Foreign aid should empower developing countries to create their own health systems rather than wait for others to do the job for them, according to Gro Harlem Brundtland, United Nations special envoy on climate change and deputy chair of The Elders, a network of seasoned global leaders launched in 2007 by the late Nelson Mandela.

“If we turn around the thinking that somebody out there is going to come in and create health systems in poor countries, we are really on the wrong track,” Brundtland said in a recent video interview.

Click on the above video to learn why developing countries don’t need to grow their economies before building their health systems, according to the former Norwegian prime minister and head of the World Health Organization.

Want to learn more? Check out the Healthy Means campaign site and tweet us using#HealthyMeans.

Healthy Means is an online conversation hosted by Devex in partnership with Concern Worldwide, Gavi, GlaxoSmithKline, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Johnson & Johnson and the United Nations Population Fund to showcase new ideas and ways we can work together to expand health care and live better lives.

About the author

  • Carlos Santamaria

    Carlos is a former associate editor for breaking news in Devex's Manila-based news team. He joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE ,and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York, and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.