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BRIEF October 11, 2022

The Health Systems Flagship Program & Course

Knowledge sharing to improve policy dialogue and technical capacity

The Health Systems Flagship Program is one of the World Bank’s offerings for policy dialogue and capacity building and aims to facilitate a strategic and systematic approach to planning health system reforms that will move countries to Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The Flagship Program offers a flagship core course, deep-dive courses, and self-paced courses. The flagship course helps participants better understand complex policy-making processes and interactions between different policies, stakeholders, and determinants of health. It is a structured health systems literacy course to update and share high-level knowledge about health sectors. Deep dive courses and self-paced courses provide policymakers with a more focused “how to” approach for addressing the implementation challenges they face in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The Flagship Program has continued for over two decades and remains highly demanded by national governments and development partners.

To learn more about the Flagship Program and upcoming courses.

Flagship Core Course

The objective of the Flagship Core Course is to help participants think strategically and systematically about health sector reform and the challenges in achieving that reform. The course is not a deep dive for any specific technical area, rather it seeks to help participants better understand the complexity behind policy making and challenges of implementation  to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

The Flagship Core Course recommends a systems-based approach to identify the necessary policy levers for achieving desired health system objectives. Rather than offering a prescriptive predetermined list of interventions, the course presents options to policy makers. It enables them to consider the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches. It helps them define their challenges. It provides them with information that enables them to come to their own decisions.

The World Bank Health Systems Flagship Program Framework

The Flagship framework addresses multiple and simultaneous changes that may occur in the reform of a health system. Participants are taught how to think about health system reform in a strategic and comprehensive manner, and how to put learned theory into action. The course shares the pros and cons of different options for improving the performance of a health system and building more evidence on how to implement positive changes successfully, as well as lessons learned on what to avoid. It enables course participants to build more evidence on how to implement positive changes successfully. The course also shares country experiences, what works as well as lessons learned on what to avoid.

Education and Health systems

The value of this course lays in the fact that it considers the reality each country faces, its cultural, political, and ethical contexts, as well as its objectives, capabilities, and constraints in conducting health system reform.

The course has been delivered to an estimated 36,600 participants in over seventy countries. These “Friends of the Flagship” and “Flagship Alumni” are part of a growing Health Systems Flagship Community of Practice.

The course content is adjusted to fit the needs of its practitioners during times of global challenges and situations such as those presented by the outbreak of Ebola in 2015 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.   

Technical/Deep-Dive Courses

The Flagship Program’s unique approach to health systems thinking allows for a more organized and efficient approach to health system reform. However, our empirical knowledge has shown us that the conversation does not stop there. From our field experience we learned that countries have a need for deeper understanding of certain topics. This prompted the creation of technical deep dive courses.

Deep-Dive courses complement and are often held after the Flagship Health Systems Core Courses. These Deep Dive "How-To" courses focus on a specific technical topic within the Flagship Course and provide Flagship course participants and alumni an opportunity to further apply the technical knowledge gained from the Flagship Course and share their own experiences with shared challenges.  Flagship Deep Dive Courses can also be requested by World Bank Health Services Task Team Leaders and tailored to meet specialized needs of their client country counterparts, for example, to have a focused policy dialogue on a specialized topic such as eHealth systems.

Self-Paced Courses

The Health Systems Flagship Program has developed self-paced courses to reach a wider audience and to allow more time for discussion in a virtual setting.  These technical courses complement the Core Course and are focused on one specific aspect of health system strengthening. A total of 5 courses are offered:

These courses are available on the World Bank’s Open Learning Campus (OLC) website. Note several of these self-paced courses are available in English, French and Spanish.

Last Updated: Oct 11, 2022