Health Systems Strengthening

Health Systems Strengthening (HSS)

{Photo credit: Genaye Eshetu/MSH}Photo credit: Genaye Eshetu/MSH

Going to Geneva for the 68th Session of the World Health Assembly (WHA)? Please join Management Sciences for Health (MSH) for three WHA side events: two on Monday, May 18th (a breakfast call to action on gestational diabetes screening, and an evening panel discussion on building global health resilience); and one on Tuesday, May 19th (a lunch panel discussion on setting adolescent health priorities). Please RSVP to each event separately. We hope to see you in Geneva!

(Not going to Geneva? Follow this blog for updates. On Twitter, follow , , and , and hashtags .)

Saving the Lives of Women & Newborns through Gestational Diabetes Screening: A Call to Action

Monday, May 18, 2015
8:00 am – 9:30am (08h00 - 09h30)
Vieux Bois restaurant, at the entrance to the Palais des Nations, Avenue de la Paix 12

{Photo credit: Todd Shapera, Rwanda}Photo credit: Todd Shapera, Rwanda

Rwanda is one of the "biggest success stories" of countries improving child survival since 2000, the BBC World News reported April 29, 2015, linking to a podcast on BBC's The Inquiry.  

Randy Wilson, Principal Technical Advisor, Management Sciences for Health (MSH), spoke with BBC The Inquiry's Helena Merriman about MSH's role supporting Rwanda's efforts, including training community health workers with RapidSMS to saves lives. Said Wilson:

We helped to introduce RapidSMS within the districts, training 45,000 community health workers, many of whom who had never touched a cell phone in their life.

Wilson continued: "If there's even the slightest evidence" of a health concern, RapidSMS "encourages the community health worker not only to refer, but also to accompany, the mother to a facility where they get proper care."

{Screenshot, BBC, April 29, 2015}Screenshot, BBC, April 29, 2015According to the BBC:

 {Photo credit: Diana Tumuhairwe/MSH}A multidrug-resistant TB patient from Kitgum, Uganda. He lost his job because of his illness.Photo credit: Diana Tumuhairwe/MSH

Health workers throughout the developing world provide vital services and improve the lives of the people they serve, and yet they are often invisible. These men and women conduct community outreach, provide key prevention messages in the community, and deliver clinical care, treatment, and follow-up. In Uganda, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) TRACK TB project, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), supports 52 community linkage facilitators to help increase tuberculosis (TB) case detection and treatment success rates.

As their name suggests, they serve as the link between the patient and the health facility. The facilitators receive a monthly allowance, mobile phones, paid airtime, and transportation reimbursement as they track treatment adherence of TB patients in and around Kampala, Uganda’s capital. The facilitators are critical to successful implementation of the World Health Organization’s DOTS (directly observed treatment short-course) strategy, which helps patients adhere to treatment.

African Strategies for Health (ASH) launches the mHealth database (screenshot, April 20, 2015).

It’s nearly impossible to find someone who doesn’t own or have access to a mobile phone these days. According to International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 2014 estimates, there are nearly seven billion mobile sub­scriptions worldwide, five billion of which are in low- and middle-income countries.

With mobile technologies accessible to 95.5 percent of the world population, a new platform for promoting and delivering health services has emerged. 

Mobile phones are increasingly being used by various cadres of health workers for tasks such as collecting health data; monitoring implementation of health interventions; or informing local communities about potential outbreaks of disease, as was done during the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

These new, innovative ways to make use of mobile technologies to improve health outcomes are known as mobile health or mHealth.  

{Photo credit: Todd Shapera}Photo credit: Todd Shapera

In the Geita District in Tanzania’s Lake Zone, some 10 kilometers from the nearest health facility, a one-year-old girl child wakes up crying with a severe fever. “We used to walk more than 10 kilometers to present our sick children to Geita Regional Hospital,” says Joyce Bahati, the girl’s mother.

Access to proper diagnosis and medicine is critical when a child develops a severe fever. A long journey can delay treatment, or for some, discourage seeking care altogether. In rural sub-Saharan Africa, where the nearest fully-functional health facility may be, at best, a three-hour journey on foot, women and children often turn first to community-based caregivers and medicines sellers or small health dispensaries as first providers of primary health care, including severe fever.

 {Photo credit: Rachel Hassinger/MSH}L to R: Dr. Jonathan D. Quick, Stefanie Friedhoff, Dr. Peter PiotPhoto credit: Rachel Hassinger/MSH

On March 27, 2015, Dr. Peter Piot of the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and Dr. Jonathan D. Quick, MSH President and CEO, sat down at the Boston Public Library with Stefanie Friedhoff of The Boston Globe to discuss Ebola, epidemic preparedness and rebuilding public health systems. 

Watch the video of the whole program:

Here are some excerpts from their conversation:

Stefanie Friedhoff: What did countries do that worked well in the Ebola fight?

Jonathan Quick: There were 6 things that worked well in three of the rim countries of Nigeria, Mali and Senegal.

  1. Leadership: Ministers of Health were on top of the first cases and declared national emergencies.
  2. Preparedness of public health systems.
  3. Rapid action in getting the index case identified and case detection system for subsequent cases.
  4. Good communications campaigns.
  5. Mobilizing the community.
  6. Heroism of local health workers.

SF: Why was the international response so slow? What should be done?

{Photo credit: C. Gilmartin/MSH}Photo credit: C. Gilmartin/MSH

For five years, the USAID-funded, MSH-led Leadership, Management and Sustainability project in Haiti (LMS/Haiti) worked with the Ministry of Health and Population (MSPP) and local NGOs to ensure a steady supply of family planning commodities to nearly 300 facilities throughout the country amid bone-rattling roads, surging rivers, and rocky footpaths.

Said Dr. Georges Dubuche, General Director of the MSPP, at the project’s closing ceremony April 14:

It is with real pride and great emotion that I salute LMS/Haiti.

LMS/Haiti’s greatest success, as everyone present can attest, was to guarantee the availability of family planning commodities at all times to ministry sites, with zero stock-out.

[ Dr. Georges Dubuche, General Director of the MSPP.] {Photo: MSH staff} Dr. Georges Dubuche, General Director of the MSPP.Photo: MSH staff

MSH President & CEO Jonathan D. Quick says: "Let this be a loud call to action for greater investment in strong local health systems and global networks..." in today's The New York Times.

"Let this be a loud call to action for greater investment in strong local health systems and global networks to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats. We know how to prevent the next local outbreak from becoming the world’s next major epidemic," says MSH President & CEO Jonathan D. Quick in a Letter to the Editor, published today in The New York Times.

Dr. Quick responds to “Yes, We Were Warned About Ebola,” an April 7 opinion editorial by Bernice Dahn, Vera Mussah, and Cameron Nutt, saying:

Dr. Dahn, the chief medical officer of Liberia’s Ministry of Health, and her colleagues express dismay that missed information from 1982 contributed to the gravely flawed conventional wisdom that Ebola was absent in West Africa. An even greater error of conventional wisdom was the longstanding misjudgment by experts that Ebola was a “dead-end event,” killing its human host too quickly to spread out of control.

World Health Worker Week (April 6-10, 2015) is an opportunity to mobilize communities, partners, and policymakers in support of health workers in your community and around the world. It is a time to celebrate, raise awareness, and renew commitments to health workers having the training, supplies and support they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.

Meet some of the health worker heroes among us!

Muhamed Mulongo, acting district health officer, Uganda

[Dr. Muhamed Mulongo] {Photo credit: Cindy Shiner/MSH}Dr. Muhamed MulongoPhoto credit: Cindy Shiner/MSH

Muhamed Mulongo decided when he was a boy to become a doctor after accompanying his sister to the hospital in the middle of the night during difficult labor. The baby died.

I said to myself, 'I should be a doctor I think'.

Now he is the only surgical doctor in the eastern Ugandan district of Bulambuli.

You work here only when you love your job.

You always have to improvise. You have no choice -- you have to save people in the process.

On behalf of our 2,200-plus worldwide staff, we wish you, your family, and communities, a happy World Health Day!

This World Health Day, we celebrate the heroes among us: health workers. We envision a world where everyone has the opportunity for a healthy life. Says a nursing officer from Kenya:

My vision is to have the best maternal services in this community.

Watch video

For more than 40 years, MSH has expanded access to quality maternal, neonatal, and child health services by strengthening all levels of the health system.

We support health workers at all levels -- ministries of health, community volunteers, midwives, medicine shop owners, nursing officers, and more -- so that every woman and newborn, even in the most remote areas, has the opportunity for a healthy life.

Envision a world where everyone has the opportunity for a healthy life!

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