Understanding and Strengthening Health Systems (Coursera)

Understanding and Strengthening Health Systems is an online MOOC Course, Offered by Johns Hopkins University via Coursera. Course 1 of 5 in the Foundations of Global Health Specialization.

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Understanding and Strengthening Health Systems Coursera
Understanding and Strengthening Health Systems (Coursera)

About Understanding and Strengthening Health Systems Online Course

Welcome to our course on Understanding and Strengthening Health Systems for Global Health. During the course, we will provide you with an overview of the main elements or building blocks of a health system based on the World Health Organization’s guidance. You will have the opportunity to explore four main areas of health systems in global health with particular reference to low and middle-income countries. The first area focuses on understanding health service organizations, their challenges.
Our second module looks at WHO’s six major building blocks or health systems components with particular reference to primary health care and the need for community participation in planning, delivery and assessment of these systems components. in our third module, we examine the specific systems component of human resource development and capacity building. The fourth area consists of health policy-making and advocacy with stakeholders. This course is geared toward learners who are already involved in managing health and development programs on the ground in low and middle-income countries or who are preparing for such a management role. The main lectures will span four weeks with approximately 2-4 hours of viewing learning materials per week. We have one peer-graded essay wherein you will use skills in ‘organizational’ diagnosis to better understand a challenge in an organization where you are or have worked. There are also quizzes. We hope you will engage with your fellow learners in discussion forums to learn from each other.

Understanding and Strengthening Health Systems Coursera Course Syllabus


Understanding Organizations and How They Change Health Systems are human organizations. Organizations have structure, purpose and membership. To remain “Healthy” an organization must adapt to its environment, whether that be funding and policy changes or expectations of its clients. In this module, we will focus on diagnosing factors related to the health of organizations and consider strategies to help organizations adapt.


Health Systems: Basic Functions and Building Blocks

The World Health Organization has described six major components or building blocks of a health system. In this module, we will examine those components and delve more deeply into the aspects of financing, commodities and service delivery, especially through Primary health Care. We examine a ‘missing’ component, community systems.


Human Resource Capacity Development: An Essential Health System Function

Human resources are a component or building block that supports all other components of a health system. This module examines the role of training and continuing professional development in strengthening organizations and systems.


Health Systems Policy Development and Advocacy Approaches

Health and development organizations and systems are created and funded through policy decisions. Within organizations, there are policies that procedures that determine the actually functioning or the organization. This module looks at stakeholders in the policy process and helps the learner consider advocacy strategies to influence healthful policy change.

Course Teacher

Understanding and Strengthening Health Systems online mooc course taught by William Brieger.

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1-4 Hours/Week

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Course Length

4 Weeks

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Course Subtitles

English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish

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