Health systems standard 6: Leadership and coordination
People have access to health services that are coordinated across agencies and sectors to achieve maximum impact.
Key actions (to be read in conjunction with the guidance notes)
Ensure that representatives of the Ministry of Health lead or at the very least are closely involved in the health sector coordination, whenever possible.
When the MOH lacks the necessary capacity or willingness to provide leadership in the response, an alternate agency with the requisite capacity must be identified to take the lead in health sector coordination (see guidance notes 1–2).
Hold regular health coordination meetings for local and external partners at central, sub-national and field levels within the health sector, and between health and other sectors and appropriate cross-cutting theme groups (see guidance note 3 and Core Standard 2).
Clarify and document the specific responsibilities and capacities of each health agency to ensure optimal coverage of the population (see guidance note 1).
Establish working groups within the health coordination mechanism whenever a particular situation may require it (e.g. outbreak preparedness and response, reproductive health).
Regularly produce and disseminate updates and health sector bulletins.
Key indicators (to be read in conjunction with the guidance notes)
The lead agency has developed a health sector response strategy document to prioritise interventions and define the role of the lead and partner agencies at the onset of emergency response (see guidance note 2)
- Lead health agency: The Ministry of Health should be the lead health agency and be responsible for leading the health sector response. In some situations, the MOH may lack capacity or willingness to assume the leadership role in an effective and impartial manner. In this situation, WHO, as a lead agency for the global health cluster, will generally take on this responsibility. On occasion, when both the MOH and WHO lack capacity, another agency may be required to coordinate activities. The lead health agency should ensure that responding health agencies coordinate with local health authorities and that they support the capacities of local health systems (see Core Standard 2).
- Health sector strategy: An important responsibility of the lead health agency is to develop an overall strategy for the emergency response within the health sector. Ideally, a document should be produced that specifies health sector priorities and objectives and outlines the strategies for achieving them. This document should be developed after consultation with relevant agencies and community representatives ensuring as inclusive a process as possible.
- Coordination meetings should be action-oriented and provide a forum in which information is shared, priorities are identified and monitored, common health strategies are developed and adapted, specific tasks are allocated and standardised protocols and interventions are agreed upon. They should be used to ensure that all health partners use common denominators and other relevant figures, tools, guidelines and standards, whenever possible. Meetings should be held more frequently at the beginning of the disaster.