Health systems software factors and their effect on the integration of sexual and reproductive health and HIV services

Document Type

Article (peer-reviewed)

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Despite a large and growing body of literature on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and HIV integration, the drivers of integration of SRH and HIV services, from a health systems perspective, are not well understood. These drivers include complex so-called hardware (structural and resource) and software (values and norms, and human relations and interactions) factors. Two groups of software factors emerge as essential enablers of effective integration of SRH and HIV services that often interact with systems hardware: (1) leadership, management, and governance processes and (2) provider motivation, agency, and relationships. Evidence suggests the potential for software elements that are essential enablers to overcome some of the obstacles posed by the non-integration of health system hardware elements (eg, financing, guidelines, and commodity supplies). These enabling factors include flexible decision making, inclusive management, and support in motivating frontline staff who can work with agency as a team. Improved software, even within constrained hardware (especially in low-income and middle-income countries), can directly contribute to improved SRH and HIV service delivery.