Health Systems Strengthening

Health Systems Strengthening (HSS)

{Photo Credit: Warren Zelman}Photo Credit: Warren Zelman

This blog post was originally published on the SIAPS website on December 27, 2016.

It's been called the pharmaceutical sector, a drug supply or management system or the medical products building block. By any name, the part of a health system that deals with ensuring access to essential medicines, vaccines and medical products and their correct use–we call it a pharmaceutical system at SIAPS–is critical. Yet despite much research in the field on improving its performance and considerable progress towards strengthening its components, there is no apparent consensus on what constitutes a pharmaceutical system in all of its complexity.

In addition, there's no clearly defined framework for measuring progress in pharmaceutical system strengthening (PSS). That means that countries and donors lack complete information for guiding their investments in PSS interventions, and the tools and agreed-on measures to evaluate them.

Happy holidays and health on earth!

Envision a 2017 where everyone has the opportunity for a healthy life. Working together for stronger health systems around the world in 2017. Best wishes for the new year!

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{Photo credit: Tsion Issayas/MSH}Photo credit: Tsion Issayas/MSH

This post originally appeared on the Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program blog as, "UHC Day 2016: Strong pharmaceutical management boosts access to essential medicines".

On this day (December 12) in 2014, the global health community made a commitment to universal health coverage (UHC) throughout the world. Although progress has been made, more than one billion people still lack access to basic health care. Further, as The Lancet Commission report, Essential Medicines for Universal Health Coverage, said in November, most low-income countries lack structural access to even basic essential medicines.

Bridging this gap requires system-wide interventions, such as strengthening the role of government, better medicines regulation, promoting quality use, and more transparency and accountability. These activities can reap big benefits.

With a sound pharmaceutical system, “for US $1–2 per month, every person in low-income and middle-income countries can have access to a basket of about 200 essential medicines,” according to the report.

{Photo by Warren Zelman}Photo by Warren Zelman

We all have an unprecedented opportunity to make universal health coverage a reality.

As a founding partner of the Universal Health Coverage Day (UHC Day) Coalition, Management Sciences for Health is joining forces with the global health community and urging everyone to take action toward universal health coverage on December 12.

UHC Day is founded on the idea that no one should go bankrupt when they get sick, that universal health coverage is a smart investment and an achievable goal everywhere, and that it underpins our collective security and prosperity.

MSH is doing our part to make UHC a reality by:

{Free antenatal and postnatal services encourage women to seek care at health facilities. Antenatal visits are of particular importance for awareness and early screening for chronic illnesses, which can avert costly treatment and save lives. (Photo credit: Adam Kone)}Free antenatal and postnatal services encourage women to seek care at health facilities. Antenatal visits are of particular importance for awareness and early screening for chronic illnesses, which can avert costly treatment and save lives. (Photo credit: Adam Kone)

This article was originally posted on the NCD Alliance's website. 

A few weeks ago I visited a health center in Freetown, the main port city and commercial center in Sierra Leone, West Africa. The health center is one of few health facilities serving the city, located in an urban area that is home to an estimated 1 million people. The clinic offers free antenatal care during pregnancy as part of the government's commitment to ensuring health care reaches all citizens.

The risk of a woman dying during pregnancy has long been unacceptably high in Sierra Leone, a problem that only worsened when Ebola hit in 2014. According to the latest figures from 2015, Sierra Leone has the worst maternal mortality ratio in the world. It is estimated that the lifetime risk of death during pregnancy and childbirth is 1 in 17. The burden of newborn deaths is also among the world’s highest, with a newborn mortality rate of 35 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2015.

{Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization, addressing the Fourth Symposium on Health Systems Research in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo credit: Health Systems Global)}Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization, addressing the Fourth Symposium on Health Systems Research in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo credit: Health Systems Global)

Strong health systems can protect the poor and promote equity. That was the resounding main message at the Fourth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, held in Vancouver, Canada, just a few weeks ago.

Policymakers, practitioners, and researchers at the symposium agreed: marginalized communities in low, middle, and high-income countries confront daily challenges that impede their health and lives. So experts called for global leaders to learn lessons both from poor and rich nations to address the inequities that exist in all communities. But a few other important themes echoed throughout the four-day event. And they are worth noting.

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{A woman at provincial health services department in Sri Lanka. (Photo Credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank)}A woman at provincial health services department in Sri Lanka. (Photo Credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank)

This article was originally published on Devex on November 18, 2016

As finance advisers in global health, we are regularly in conversations with health ministers in low- and middle-income countries who have been charged with the commendable but daunting task of achieving universal health coverage for their citizens.

In other words, they must ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them, with special emphasis on serving the poor and disadvantaged. Our conversations often boil down to some key questions: How much will it cost, who will pay, and how do we ensure that funds are used effectively and responsibly?

Dr. Frank Mugabe, Manager of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Programme in Uganda, describes the urban DOTS model.

Thirty MSH staff coordinated 2 workshops and 7 symposia and contributed 13 oral and 53 poster presentations to the 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Liverpool from October 26 through 29—a historic presence at this event. USAID and WHO experts called the MSH-led symposia on multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and urban DOTS “outstanding.” In the area of urban DOTS, presenters described the successful approaches that MSH has used in Kabul and Kampala under Challenge TB/Afghanistan and Uganda Track TB.

Four main themes emerged from the conference:

{A clinic doctor befriends a child waiting for vaccination at Delma 75 clinic near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Photo Credit: Carole Douglis/MSH)}A clinic doctor befriends a child waiting for vaccination at Delma 75 clinic near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Photo Credit: Carole Douglis/MSH)

This is the last in a series of four blog posts about the impact of leadership, management, and governance in strengthening health systems. See the full series on our blog.

Hurricane Matthew weakened Haiti’s already vulnerable health system when it struck last month, adding to the many challenges that the country’s government already faces in providing quality health services to its population.

Now, more than ever, Haiti needs strong leadership, management, and governance in the health sector to strengthen the system and ensure that its people have access to the care they need.

Even before the storm, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere was already facing political instability, the lasting effects of the 2010 earthquake, and an ongoing cholera epidemic, all of which seriously impacted the country’s health system.

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