Health Resilience is the ability of a community to use its assets to strengthen public health and healthcare systems and to improve the community’s physical, behavioral, and social health to withstand, adapt to, and recover from adversity.
- Improved health-seeking behavior adopted by individuals in the pre-crisis stage goes a long way to prepare the communities and help them absorb sudden shocks, and remain resilient during a crisis period. For example, hand-washing practices and proper sanitation and hygiene that individuals have embraced will contribute to keeping communities safe and resilient during a cholera outbreak. Immunizing children prior to an outbreak helps protect them against a measles or polio epidemic. And social and behavior change along with infection prevention and control practices can keep communities safe from contracting other communicable diseases such as the Ebola Virus Disease, because of increased resilience.
- The resilience of a health system refers to its ability to absorb shocks, to adapt and respond with the provision of needed services. It is built with investment and reforms. For instance, in the case of the countries recently affected by the Ebola outbreak, Health System Resilience would involve efforts to restore the health system to its pre-crisis status and beyond by transforming and fundamentally improving it
- A multidisciplinary approach to improve the overall quality of health care is necessary in developing health resilience. This should include engagement of specialists from Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Mental Health and Nutrition to ensure the key determinants of good health are addressed. For example; WASH can be a major gap in health facilities as we found out early in our response to the Ebola outbreak. (ECHO funded a resilience project to link these sectors together).
- An efficient, holistic approach to service provision is necessary for health system resilience. Assessing the gaps and addressing the resource needs for quality service delivery are the keys to providing optimal health care during a crisis. For example, midwives can be trained, but without appropriate supplies, they can neither function optimally nor contribute effectively to creating a resilient health system.
- Health workforce competence with the ability to identify threats early at local levels and with the capacity at both local and national levels to take immediate and effective action is essential in ensuring health system resilience.
Among its components:
- A systematic appraisal of the efficiency of health services in the emergency and post-emergency phase at community and district levels. Find the weak points in the system and establish priorities for rebuilding. Determine when to put resources into a sector and how to sustain support for those resources.
- A multidisciplinary approach to improve the overall quality of health care. This would include engagement of specialists from WASH, MH and Nutrition to ensure the key determinants of good health are addressed. For example; WASH can be a major gap in health facilities as we found out early in our response to the Ebola outbreak. (ECHO is funding a resilience project on how these areas link together.)
- An efficient, holistic approach to service provision. Assessing the gaps and addressing the resource needs for quality service delivery are the keys to providing optimal health care. For example, midwives can be trained, but if they have no supplies, then the system can’t work efficiently.
- A level of health workforce competence that can sustain the ability to identify threats early at local levels and have the capacity at both local and national level to take immediate and effective action.
Training and capacity building through pre-service and in-service training is a key element of health resilience. It also lies at the core of International Medical Corps’ work. For example, we have worked in some of the world’s toughest environments to strengthen reproductive, maternal newborn and child health (RMNCH). In Yemen, we conducted refresher trainings for midwives on Emergency Obstetrics and Newborn Care (EmONC) that was in accordance with international theoretical and competency-based standards. In South Sudan, we support three midwifery and nursing schools that offer competency-based training with over 30 months of practical and theoretical classroom components. We have also supported midwifery training programs in remote, mountainous areas of eastern Afghanistan.
International Medical Corps South Sudan supports three nursing and midwifery schools in South Sudan. Over 300 students are currently enrolled in the three schools.
: Every year 16 million births occur globally to girls between 15 and 19 years of age.
Nearly half of new HIV infections occur among adolescents.