Women & Gender

After more than 15 years working on women’s health and development issues, I feel hopeful as the growing movement for women’s rights brings us closer to a breakthrough. Everyday, more women around the world -- from Madagascar to Mexico -- are emerging as leaders. They are organizing and demanding justice, equality, and the full realization of their fundamental human rights. In the halls of the United Nations, at the policymaking tables of country ministries, and in the local health clinics, women and girls are calling for health policies and services that meet their needs, and those of their families and communities.

On International Women’s Day, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) joins women worldwide to press for progress. Our work is grounded in the fundamental view that safeguarding women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health is a core health system function. It is time we listen to all women and girls, because they are the health system.  

{Photo Credit: Denise Museminali}Photo Credit: Denise Museminali

For the past six years, MSH has hosted an internal storytelling contest, where we invite staff to submit stories on how strong health systems are saving lives and improving the health of people around the world. The stories undergo a judging process, and the winners are featured in an annual compendium.

We are proud to bring you these 12 winning stories that demonstrate the power of effective partnerships. Meet health workers, community leaders, pharmacy managers, and patients from 11 different countries, working together across the health system to build healthier communities.


Madagascar: Mobile Technology for Community Health

By Samy Rakotoniaina

Lynda, a community health volunteer (CHV) in Madagascar, is among 50 pilot users of a mobile application that helps ease the burden of reporting health service data, improve reporting accuracy and timeliness, and improve the health care and counseling that CHVs provide. More>>



{Photo Credit: Mark Tuschman}Photo Credit: Mark Tuschman

There was an awkward silence and then soft giggling as the girls looked at each other. I had just finished talking about strategies for persuading sexual partners to use a condom. Laughter during these skills-building and girls empowerment sessions with 30+ secondary school students in Morogoro, Tanzania was not uncommon, particularly given the sometimes sensitive topics of discussion, but this time, the joke was lost on me.

I asked the student nearest to me, a confident teenager that I knew wouldn’t be too shy to respond, why everyone was laughing. She told me, “You speak about this as if we have a choice.” She wasn’t being sarcastic or combative, nor was she complaining - she was simply matter-of-fact about it, stating her truth.

 {Photo: Adama Sanogo/ Management Sciences for Health}An SGBV survivor arriving for medical and psychosocial care.Photo: Adama Sanogo/ Management Sciences for Health

(Crossposted from the FCI Program of MSH "Rights and Realities" blog).

Communities in the Mopti region of central Mali—which is home to several ethnic groups and to many people displaced by 2012 violence in the country’s northern region—continue to grapple with widespread sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), including forced and early marriage and other harmful practices. A majority of Malian girls are married by the time they reach 18, and 15% before the age of 15.  About 91% of women between 15 and 49 years old, as well as 69% of girls under 15, have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM). And, as is true in so many conflict-affected areas, widespread sexual violence has been a tragic and infuriating effect of war, dislocation, and migration.

 {Photo credit: Jones Dizon/SIAPS.}Training participants try out the Pharmacovigilance Monitoring System (PViMS), a web-based application to help clinicians, regulatory bodies, and implementing partners monitor medicine safety specifically in resource-limited countries.Photo credit: Jones Dizon/SIAPS.

The Philippines has one of the highest TB burdens in the world—and 2.6% of its more than 286,000 new cases in 2015 were of multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). This threatens the progress the country has made in addressing the deadly disease over the past few decades and its goal to make the country TB-free by 2030. Further, MDR-TB cases will likely rise steadily in the Philippines and the world over the next two decades.

There’s a new medicine that can help. Through a partnership with Janssen Therapeutics of Johnson & Johnson that began in 2015, USAID introduced a program to distribute a new medicine called bedaquiline that helps patients with MDR-TB in low-income countries including the Philippines. The USAID-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program, which Management Sciences for Health (MSH) leads, has been helping to roll out bedaquiline in low- and middle-income countries.

But with any new treatment, active pharmacovigilance (PV) is needed to help ensure both patient safety and drug effectiveness. This means being able to monitor patients to identify and evaluate adverse events, such as unexpected or serious side effects, to better understand possible risks and improve treatment protocols.

 {Photo credit: Alison Corbacio/MSH}From left: Ugochi Daniels, UNFPA; Chunmei Li, Johnson & Johnson; Antoine Ndiaye, MSH; Lara Zakaria, Syrian American Medical Society; Irene Koek, USAID; Loyce Pace, Global Health Council.Photo credit: Alison Corbacio/MSH

Health systems strengthening was front and center in discussions held in New York on the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. MSH hosted three events spotlighting how strong health systems are critical to resiliency and stability in fragile environments, at the core for global health security and essential for achieving universal health coverage. Here are some highlights from the week. See more on Twitter , and .

 {Photo Credit: Denise Museminali}A doctor at Bushenge Hospital attends to a mother and her newborn in the maternity ward.Photo Credit: Denise Museminali

The National Accreditation Program at Bushenge Provincial Hospital

Tucked in the outermost region of the Western Province of Rwanda, Bushenge Provincial Hospital serves a population of over 171,000 people, including expectant mothers referred by neighboring health centers for pregnancy complications that require Cesarean section. Cesarean section (C-section) delivery is one of the most frequent surgeries performed at health facilities worldwide. At Bushenge Provincial Hospital, it accounts for approximately 48% of annual births. As with any surgical procedure, there are a number of complications that could occur during or post-operation. Surgical site infections (SSI) are a common complication following Cesarean section procedures that do not adhere to infection prevention and control principles. Such infections place a great deal of physical and emotional burden on the mother and family and present substantial costs for health facilities.

Because of the Accreditation Program, I work with an objective and not just out of routine as I did before. I always ask myself what can I do to contribute to the quality of care at Bushenge? If there is an infection risk, I ask myself, what can I do to help?

—Noëlla Benemariya, Environmental Health Officer at Bushenge Hospital

 {Photo Credit: Rui Pires}A pregnant woman is given an ultrasound.Photo Credit: Rui Pires

(This post originally appeared on the Next Billion website.)

Why Greater Ultrasound Availability Doesn’t Always Benefit Patients

Advances in health technologies have reshaped the lives of communities, families and individuals, undoubtedly contributing to better health outcomes around the world. For the most vulnerable populations, technology may significantly improve access to preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services and help increase demand for greater quality care. Yet, despite their potential, new technologies can also add new challenges, risking potential gains in quality, safety or cost. Particularly in settings where health systems are weak, the introduction of technological interventions requires thoughtful execution.


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