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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Understanding and Strengthening Health Systems by Johns Hopkins University

322 ratings

About the 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, the 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 a four-week period 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....

Top reviews


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I could elevate my knowledge and learning . Gratitude to my teaching team.


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This a very interesting course highlighting key components in order effectively organize to tackle issues facing health systems at large . I highly recommend it

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76 - 89 of 89 Reviews for Understanding and Strengthening Health Systems

By Michael D

Feb 9, 2021

I feel the structure was set up very well, and it did flow. I am hoping to never hear the word guinea worm ever again though. Looking forward to the next course.

By Zuzana H

Nov 1, 2019

This course provided useful overview. Though slides in presentations in Module 2 were in wrong order. Otherwise, I would recommend the course.

By Fredrik H

Dec 30, 2019

Sadly the PowerPoint in Module 2 (part of week 2) is totally messed up. However, great course with good examples

By Marc S O

Dec 21, 2018

A very useful and practical course. It delivers practical examples in real life situations.

By Maria L P

May 30, 2020

Some weeks are disproportionately heavy with regards to other. Very interesting.

By Hafiz M W

May 18, 2020

It is really good course.

By Gil C

Oct 14, 2019

Very good.

By Nonna T

Nov 6, 2020

I am grateful to the course organizers for putting it out there.

As a general introduction, the course needs a better explanation of how its different parts come together. For instance, Part 1 sessions on organisations and change does not link up with the last few sessions which introduce Health Systems. The presentation of the sessions on organisations and change is overloaded with detailed personal experiences of the lecturer, there are no references to where the models come from, and the models themselves don’t seem thought through.

Week 2 is much better than Week 1. I think the view of the PHC is obsolete, same as the WHO’s view of it. Nowhere in the world does PHC fulfill all the roles expected of it, including education and social mobilization, or “fixing the local markets” example. With the amount of money allocated to PHC in M/LICs it’s not realistic to expect all that. I did like the HS building blocks explained on the example of the malaria program, I found malaria more relatable than the example in Week 1. The “last mile” session is informative and the one on private vendors is interesting, although a bit repetitive, and there’s a mismatch between the voice-over and the slides in a number of videos. What I really liked in Week 2 is the matrix of the Global Fund CSS blocks and the community systems.

Week 3 seems an improvement in setting the stage and good overview at the start of the lecture covering the main elements. I do not understand why, while the course is on health systems, the practical assignment is not on health systems, but on organizational change.

Week 4 material on policy making makes an important highlight of the responsibility of policy administrators, and I liked the comparison between the different policy formation models. The lecturer is spot on about the detrimental impact of WTO/patents. The lecturer’s accounts of advocacy implementation are a clear value-add.

Generally I think it would be best to have a separate course on organizational change and on health systems/community systems. I do not think the health systems and the organizational change parts of this course blended well together.

Some detailed observations are: the course could benefit from mentioning sources/providing reference links. Also it would be great if there was a possibility to fast-forward/rewind by 10 seconds, like on Netflix 😊 I personally find many of the illustrations/pictures used to be a bit dated, and more diversity in the images would be welcome. The image on slide 10 of Week 2 struck me, it’s about nutrition, on the image there are two smiling men who are at a table with food in front of them, and there is a seemingly sidelined woman holding a child who sits at the edge. It would be good to mention something about the role of gender or intra-family food security! I think sometimes the lecturer goes in too much details on the clinical aspects of different tropical diseases. I do appreciate the time, effort and resources that were put to produce this course, with a few changes the course can improve.

By Julian, K

Feb 21, 2020

The videos were fairly long and extremely detailed albeit it required complete and undivided attention. If you don't do very well when it comes to watching long lectures, it's better to start now because it's going to be worth it. Thanks!

By Óscar D O Á

Sep 9, 2020

The information is very useful but, some slides of the videos are not synchronize with the audio and make difficult to understand the classes.

By Maria d l A E

Jun 14, 2018

The information provided was very useful, but the method (videos/lectures) were too monotonous.

By Varun R N

May 24, 2020

The content organization is very random and one component does not flow into the other.

The approach to teaching is very boring- the instructor is simply reading out information without engagement.

The good part about the course is the case study approach to teaching which makes it easier to apply in a practical setting.

By Dana D

Feb 25, 2023

It is inconvenient that I must wait until others would submit their works or check my assignment. I cannot get my certificate on time because of that.

By Jean M V N

Nov 16, 2020

Very structured and interesting course