Universal Health Coverage

Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

 {Maternal Health Task Force}Critical Maternal Health Knowledge GapsMaternal Health Task Force

Cross-posted with permission from the Maternal Health Taskforce (MHTF) blog.

As we reflect on lessons learned from the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) and set strategies for improving global maternal health, it’s time to identify what has worked and what more is needed to not only avert preventable maternal deaths, but also provide quality health care for every woman.

In a paper published last month, Tamil Kendall, a post-doctoral fellow of the Maternal Health Task Force, summarizes priorities for maternal health research in low- and middle-income countries based on three broad questions she asked 26 maternal health researchers from five continents:

1. Critical maternal health knowledge gaps

“We know what to do. But the interactions between the interventions and the health system have not been studied”

{Photo credit: Andrew Esiebo/MSH Nigeria}Photo credit: Andrew Esiebo/MSH Nigeria

I am a woman. I am a Nigerian. I am a mother. I am a leader. And, I am a daughter. As the Nigerian country representative, I guide Management Sciences for Health (MSH)’s efforts to ensure the people of my country have access to quality health services. Indeed, I am many things. Before all else:

I am a woman of Nigeria.

The Girl Child in Nigeria

From the beginning, our girl children are at a disadvantage.

Our culture (like many are) is strongly patriarchal. The boy child is given higher status than the girl child. If a family has to choose, the boy child is the first to go to school. The girl child is the first to be dropped from school.

No matter how young she is, the girl child feels that it is her responsibility to care for her siblings. She is expected to take on added responsibilities and earn money to keep the other children. This pressure frequently leads to early sexual activity, transactional sex, and sex with older men-- increasing her risk of getting HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections.

Then Boko Haram came to the North East Zone of Nigeria. They take our girls away. They abuse them. They rape them. They marry them off to older men.

The strengthening of health systems in low and middle income countries is central to the global effort to promote economic and social development through universal health coverage, reduce mortality, and improve health and sustainability of health care over the next 15 to 25 years. ("Health Systems Strengthening: 2015 and Beyond")

MSH has released a new information brief, "Health Systems Strengthening: 2015 and Beyond." The brief looks at lessons learned from working at all levels of the health system for over 40 years, outlines problems that must still be addressed and identifies specific ways to address them.

{Photo: Dominic Chavez}Photo: Dominic Chavez

The key element of any health system is the people who run it. Nowhere is this more true than in countries in the midst of, or recovering from, conflict. Indirect or direct threats faced by health workers exacerbate a population’s challenges in seeking and receiving health care.

In conflict settings, health workers may be forced to flee to safe havens as refugees, internally displaced people, or leave the country as migrants—if they have the means to do so. Some of the most capable are absorbed into international agencies. Those who remain frequently have insufficient resources to perform their jobs and must carry on as best as they can under daunting circumstances.

This situation has worsened in recent years with a growing number of direct attacks on health workers in fragile states, such as those against polio vaccinators in Pakistan and Nigeria. These blatant violations of the Geneva Conventions inhibit an already difficult environment for the delivery of health services and the recovery or development of the health system.

 {Photo credit: Julie O'Brien/MSH}Haiti.Photo credit: Julie O'Brien/MSH

This post is part of MSH's Global Health Impact Blog series, Improving Health in Haiti: Remember, Rebuild. The post originally appeared on LMGforHealth.org, the blog of the US Agency for International Development (USAID)'s Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) Project, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and a consortium of partners.

{Photo credit: Anteneh Tesfaye Lemma/MSH.}Photo credit: Anteneh Tesfaye Lemma/MSH.

Meeting my predecessor

There he was: Kenaw! I was seeing him in person for the first time. Kenaw is a friendly guy; we greeted like we’d known each other awhile. I hear from my Health for All: Campaign for Universal Health Coverage in Africa (Health for All) colleagues that he was wonderful to work with and got along with almost everyone in the office within a few weeks of arriving. Although I hadn't had the opportunity to work with him, I sprinted from the foundation he laid to further the campaign’s activities as I joined MSH and Health for All in January 2013.

{Photo: Mark Tuschman, Kenya}Photo: Mark Tuschman, Kenya

Not Beyond Us. This is the theme of World Cancer Day 2015. But how will we achieve it? Cancer can seem insurmountable. The global cancer burden is great. In 2012, 8.2 million people died from cancer-related causes—most of them in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, which experiences more cases and more deaths than anywhere else: 60 percent of the 14 million new cancer cases annually and 70 percent of all cancer-related deaths occur in the developing world. The same countries bearing the brunt of the cancer burden have the fewest resources to tackle it.

Still we know and remind one another today, the 4th of February: We can and must stop vaccine-preventable cancers and reduce preventable cancer deaths. We must reduce the cancer inequities.

Cancer, you are not beyond us.  

Among women, cervical cancer is one of the deadliest -- and most easily preventable -- cancers.  Women in the developing world account for 85 percent of the 270,000 deaths every year.  Yet we know that effective prevention, treatment and care are possible.

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman.}Photo credit: Warren Zelman.

This post originally appeared on Devex.

Cancer is gaining ground in the developing world.

People in poor countries are more likely to die from cancer, and die far younger, than people in rich countries. Today, on World Cancer Day, this cancer divide continues to worsen. Even as misconceptions have receded, the reality hasn’t.

There’s been political progress at the global level, including the 2011 U.N. resolution on noncommunicable diseases like cancer. Yet the traditional mode of global assistance for developing countries — aid funding — hasn’t been forthcoming. Without it, the NCD agenda has gained little traction in those countries.

Perhaps the answer isn’t countries at all.

{Photo credt: Katy Doyle/MSH}Photo credt: Katy Doyle/MSH

For the third consecutive year, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) sponsored an internal storytelling contest, inviting staff to submit MSH's best examples of saving lives and improving health around the world.

Today, we share the top 12 stories of 2014, as selected by a cross-section of staff, in this special edition of our Global Health Impact Newsletter.

Click on each story to learn more about the people, projects, and partners who, together with MSH, make strong health systems happen. Visit 11 of the countries where we work and meet a few of the thousands of people whose lives have been transformed.

~ Dr. Jonathan D. Quick, MSH President & CEO

 {Photo credit: Maureen Taft-Morales/Haiti}A community health worker visits a family and records health data.Photo credit: Maureen Taft-Morales/Haiti

This post is part of MSH's Global Health Impact Blog series, Improving Health in Haiti: Remember, Rebuild.

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) sponsored a Congressional Staff Study Tour in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in December 2014 to help staffers get a first-hand account of health progress in Haiti. The overarching focus of the trip was how US government funded health efforts in Haiti are being leveraged for health impact and the role of the Haitian government in that process. 

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