Document Type: Original Article
Department of Global Health and Development, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
Ongoing conflict and systematic targeting of health facilities and personnel by the Syrian regime in opposition-controlled areas have contributed to health system and governance mechanisms collapse. Health directorates (HDs) were established in opposition-held areas in 2014 by the interim (opposition) Ministry of Health (MoH), to meet emerging needs. As the local health authorities responsible for health system governance in opposition-controlled areas in Syria, they face many challenges. This study explores ongoing health system governance efforts in 5 opposition-controlled areas in Syria.
A qualitative study design was selected, using in-depth key informant interviews with 20 participants purposely sampled from HDs, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), donors, and service-users. Data were analysed thematically.
Health system governance elements (ie, strategic vision, participation, transparency, responsiveness, equity, effectiveness, accountability, information) were considered important, but not interpreted or addressed equally in opposition-controlled areas. Participants identified HDs as primarily responsible for health system governance in opposition-controlled areas. Main health system governance challenges identified were security (eg, targeting of health facilities and personnel), funding, and capacity. Suggested solutions included supporting HDs, addressing health-worker loss, and improving coordination.
Rebuilding health system governance in opposition-controlled areas in Syria is already progressing, despite ongoing conflict. Local health authorities need support to overcome identified challenges and build sustainable health system governance mechanisms.