Universal Health Coverage

Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

 {Photo credit: Todd Shapera}A 27-week premature baby in an incubator at Kibuye Hospital, Karongi District, western Rwanda.Photo credit: Todd Shapera

November is Prematurity Awareness Month in the US, and the 17th is World Prematurity Day. But I never need any reminders about the importance of access to medicines and services for premature babies. Every November, I celebrate the birthday of my own little preemie. On November 30, 1997, I went into labor just after reaching 32 weeks. I was terrified. I had had a healthy second pregnancy up to that point and my doctor did not believe me at first when I told her I was in labor. After a somewhat traumatic trip to the clinic and then the delivery, my tiny bundle of joy arrived, weighing in at a meager 1.5 kg (3.3.lbs). We were so very lucky to have access to excellent health services, not just for delivery and newborn care, but for his whole first year or so of life, when visits to the doctor to check on his heart, lungs, eyes and overall development were a weekly occurrence.

 {Photo credit: Warren Zelman.}A health worker speaks with a woman and her baby outside a clinic in Ethiopia. Gestational diabetes occurs when a woman develops high blood sugar during pregnancy.Photo credit: Warren Zelman.

This post originally appeared on Devex on November 14, World Diabetes Day ().

During her third pregnancy, Eden Bihon visited the Mekelle Health Center in Tigray, Ethiopia. Although a routine prenatal visit, it held great importance for Eden, as she had recently lost her second child, who died from unknown causes at the age of just one year.

Unknown to her at the time, this visit would have lasting implications for Eden and her baby. A 23-year-old mother, Eden, like most Ethiopian women, had concerns about her pregnancy and well-being. But gestational diabetes was not one of them.

Devex #Healthymeans graphic.
On October 27, Devex launched , a month-long online campaign to raise awareness about global health challenges and opportunities. Throughout the month of November, Devex and partners are encouraging discussion around the question: What does healthy mean to you?

Join Nov. 13, 1 pm EST with hashtags  and

On November 13, MSH () and partners are leading a Twitter chat from 1:00-1:30 pm EST on "Maximizing Global Health Synergies in Post-2015 Era". Led by Jonathan Jay (), guest-tweeting with , we'll discuss:
  1. What health target or outcome is your top priority for the post-2015 era?
{Photo credit: Warren Zelman.}Photo credit: Warren Zelman.

Family planning is not abortion.

If this were understood, we could stop the discussion here. Decades of debate and wrangling over women’s access to contraceptives could end. But the myth that family planning equals abortion fuels policies and practices that block women’s access to health services.

One such policy is The Global Gag Rule (or Mexico City Policy). Coined by Population Action International as "The Policy That Never Dies", The Global Gag Rule bans organizations that receive US public or government funding from using non-US funds to provide (or even refer to) abortion services—even if those services are legal in those countries. When the Global Gag Rule was enforced, some of our partners struggled to provide life-saving services to women in need. These organizations could no longer receive US funding for providing any health services, because they were also providing abortion services that were legal in the country. 

In reality, family planning helps reduce abortion. And many women won't need to abort, if they have the family planning information and services they need.

 {Photo credit: MSH}Colin Gilmartin, Dr. San San Aye, Uzaib Saya, and David Collins present at HSR 2014.Photo credit: MSH

This post originally appeared on the MSH at the Third Global Symposium on Health Systems Research conference blog.

On September 30 – October 3, 2014, nearly 3,000 researchers, program managers, and policy makers convened in Cape Town, South Africa for the Third Health Systems Research Symposium (HSR2014) to review evidence and research focused on improving people-centered health systems and service delivery. A key component to strengthening health systems and improving health outcomes is through health care financing mechanisms.

 {Photo credit: Sylvia Vriesondorp/MSH.}2014 JWLI Fellows meet with Atsuko Fish (seated, in red coat) and Belkis Giorgis, MSH’s global technical lead on gender (seated at laptop). From right: Yuka Matsushima, Yumiko Nagai, Mito Ikemizu, Kozue Sawame (Fish Family Foundation), Megumi Ishimoto.Photo credit: Sylvia Vriesondorp/MSH.

“Japanese women could be a tremendous force for social change—in Japan and elsewhere,” said Atsuko Fish, Trustee of the Fish Family Foundation in Boston. “But, few have the confidence and skills to take on leadership roles.”

In 2006, three visionary women leaders, Fish; Mary Lassen, past president and Chief Executive Officer of the Women's Union in Boston; and Catherine Crone Coburn, former president of MSH, founded The Japanese Women‘s Leadership Initiative (JWLI). They created a pilot project designed to provide women from Japan four weeks of direct experience and training with successful nonprofit organizations in Boston. Training areas included domestic violence, elder care, child care, and women‘s leadership and empowerment. That same year, Simmons College became their academic partner.

 {Photo credit: Sarah Lindsay/MSH.}Ayanda Ntsaluba (right) Executive Director of Discovery Health and Former Director-General of Health for South Africa, welcomes participants to the Third Global Governance for Health Roundtable.Photo credit: Sarah Lindsay/MSH.

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and a consortium of partners lead the US Agency for International Development's (USAID's) Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) Project. These posts originally appeared on LMG's blog as two posts (Day 1 and Day 2). They also appeared on MSH's Third Global Symposium on Health Systems Research conference blog (Day 1, Day 2).

MSH President & CEO Jonathan D. Quick says "investment in health systems, including epidemic preparedness, is the only way to ensure rapid containment of the next disease outbreak," in today's The New York Times.

"Developing strong health systems will ensure the collective well-being for all over the long term," said MSH President & CEO Jonathan D. Quick in a Letter to the Editor, published October 3, 2014, in The New York Times.

In the letter responding to Nicholas Kristof's Sept. 25 column, “The Ebola Fiasco”, Dr. Quick wrote:

Nicholas Kristof rightly states that early action on Ebola could have saved lives and money. The early investment should have been in bolstering the health systems for the long term—not as a quick fix after Ebola had re-emerged. ...

Steady international and national investment in health systems, including epidemic preparedness, is the only way to ensure rapid containment of the next disease outbreak—which surely will come—and to avoid the human and financial cost of an epidemic out of control.

Read Dr. Quick's Letter to the Editor in today's The New York Times (print edition or online).

{Photo credit: Rui Pires - Ghana.}Photo credit: Rui Pires - Ghana.

Sometimes the people who know best are, well, the people, say MSH President & CEO Dr. Jonathan D. Quick and colleagues in the second issue of The Strengthening Health Systems Journal.

Achieving the fundamental objectives of universal health coverage (UHC) and meeting the challenges of governing complex health systems requires people-centered schemes that include formal mechanisms to bring civil society and communities into the design and implementation of UHC programmes.

Dr. Quick, Research & Communications Specialist Chelsey Canavan, and Senior Writer Jonathan Jay highlight three areas where civil society and communities play vital roles in people-centered health systems: 1) ensuring the right services are provided under an essential package of health services; 2) removing barriers to care such as user fees; and 3) ensuring equitable access to health services.

In each of these areas and at every level of the health system, "citizen representation is essential", Quick and colleagues say. Bringing communities into the process at every step in the design and implementation of UHC will help "ensure meaningful increases in equity and improvements in health outcomes for the people the health system is meant to serve".

 {Photo credit: Jon Jay/MSH.}FROM LEFT: Joanne Manrique, Center for Global Health and Diplomacy; Sheila Tlou, UNAIDS (Eastern and Southern Africa), Former MOH Bostwana; Irene Kiwia, Tanzania Women of Achievement; Catharine Taylor, MSH; Kate Gilmore, UNFPA; Raymonde Goudou Coffie, MOH, Cote d'Ivoire; Language interpreter.Photo credit: Jon Jay/MSH.

Experience the 69th UN General Assembly (UNGA) and Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting as we take you through some of the key events in photos, videos, and tweets. More than a dozen Management Sciences for Health (MSH) representatives led or participated in UNGA and CGI activities in New York City, New York, last week.

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