Governance and Health

Source - MSH. Description - Beneficiaries of a well-governed and managed health facility.

Governance is a structured process used by a group of people—usually referred to as a governing body—to make decisions about policy, plans, and rules of collective action. For health organizations, the focus of this collective action is to strengthen health systems in order to expand access to quality health services. This leads to better, more sustainable health outcomes.

The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to the important role that governance plays in the health sector in resource-constrained countries, detailing how governance is different but synergistic with management and leadership approaches, and ultimately contributes to the highest attainable level of health system performance and good health outcomes for beneficiaries. You will be introduced to key governance terms, concepts, and definitions, and gain an understanding of how governance works in the public sector and within civil society organizations.

This course is the first in a series of courses that comprise the Governance and Health Certificate Program. We recommend that you take the governance courses in the following order, since the subsequent courses build upon the earlier courses.

  • Governance and Health provides an overview of good governance in the health sector
  • Key Practices of Good Governance explores the essential practices of good governance
  • Infrastructure for Good Governance provides practical setup and activities to enable the work of governing bodies

Those who work in the pharmaceutical sector are encouraged to also take the Good Governance in the Management of Medicines course.



By the end of this course, learners will be able to:

  • Clearly define key governance terms and concepts in the context of health
  • Explain the differences between governance, leadership, and management
  • Understand the rationale for investing in governance improvements
  • Recognize the role that good governance plays as an enabler of sound management, and that sound management plays as an enabler of high-quality service delivery
  • Identify enablers of good governance
  • Name the key shifts that leaders who govern need to make to improve their organization’s performance
  • Appreciate specificities of governance in the public sector and within civil society organizations


Target Audience

This course is designed for you: Anyone new to governance and interested in learning more, those in a governance role and seeking to improve your organization’s governance, as well as USAID mission staff and others who support the ministries of health, health sector, and health service delivery organizations. This course will provide you with an appreciation of the value and role of good governance in improving health sector performance. 


The course author is very grateful to the reviewers who provided their insights and suggestions:
  • Anna Mary Coburn, USAID
  • Peggy D'Adamo, USAID 
  • Jim Shelton, USAID
  • Reena Shukla, USAID



  • 2 hours 30 minutes


  • Monday, October 19, 2015

Course Authors: 

  • Dr. Mahesh Shukla, Management Sciences for Health

  • Dr. James Rice, Management Sciences for Health

Course Managers: 

  • Lisa Mwaikambo, CCP

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