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When health and development experts study the causes of poor health in poor countries, weak health systems are often the scapegoat. With so many fingers pointed at the many inefficient, corrupt, and poorly-resourced systems, you would think that coherent, large-scale efforts would seek to address this constraint on better health. This has not been true -- until now. This month, 31 leaders from around the world "agreed to launch a Health System Action Network (HSAN) to increase understanding at both the global and country level of the importance of strong health systems to achieve urgent health priorities" (read the press release here). The upshots of this network are that countries will have a better chance at learning from one another, and lessons from experience will also better translate into priorities for funders of global health programs. What remains to be seen is whether this new energy and collaboration will elicit answers to the questions that have been plaguing health and development experts -- what makes a health system work better, and how do you get there?

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.