Women & Gender

Caren Wakoli, member of the East Africa Women's Mentoring Network, presents at the International Conference on Family Planning. (Photo: Sarah McKee/MSH)Caren Wakoli, member of the East Africa Women's Mentoring Network, presents at the International Conference on Family Planning. (Photo: Sarah McKee/MSH)

And a happy International Women’s Day to you too. Every year, on March 8, activists, organizations, and officials celebrate advancements in women’s rights; however, despite global advocacy and action, women continue to suffer a disproportionate burden of disease and death.

If health systems are expected to deliver responsive and high-quality health services that can end preventable child and maternal deaths, then governments, organizations, and leaders must first address women’s continued underrepresentation in health leadership, management, and governance.

Frankly put, expanding women’s health leadership requires a health system-wide approach that collaborates with individuals, organizations, and governments. For the LMG Project, this means building individual women’s leadership capacity, highlighting the importance of women in health governance, and mainstreaming gender at all levels of a health system.

 {Photo credit: MSH Nigeria}Some members of the Amdo Health Club in Billiri, Gombe StatePhoto credit: MSH Nigeria

It isn’t easy being a woman–or a girl–in Nigeria.

I grew up in a little village in the North where the tradition was very patriarchal. But my family was quite revolutionary. My father, right from the beginning, supported all of his children to go to school. When he got ill, he told my mother:  ‘You must promise me this: If I’m not around, and you are forced to choose between who to send to school, always choose the girl. The boy will inherit the land; he will always have a livelihood. The girl, she is not allowed to inherit anything; the girl child needs an education to find a livelihood for herself. '

It’s the opposite of what everyone thought! This is how I learned to lead.

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

Medicines are a critical component of quality health care. In fact, most of the leading causes of death and disability in low- and middle-income countries could be prevented or treated with the appropriate use of affordable, effective medicines.

Yet, about two billion people—one third of the world’s population—lack consistent access to essential medicines. Fake and substandard medicines exacerbate the problem. When these people fall ill and seek treatment, too often they end up with small quantities, high prices, poor quality, and the wrong drug. This leads to prolonged suffering, and even death.

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) is a global leader on pharmaceutical management and universal health coverage (UHC). 

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

In 2012, the United Nations unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the concept of universal health coverage (UHC), urging governments everywhere to “provide all people with access to affordable, quality health care services”. Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program are among global champions for UHC and joined global leaders celebrating UHC’s notable inclusion in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) last Fall. Now, we continue to help countries face the obstacles of making UHC a reality.

Access to medicines has not always been at the forefront of the global discourse on UHC, which instead has tended to focus on financing. UHC programs must include adequate health financing and coverage of essential medicines if they are to deliver meaningful health outcomes. Policymakers attempting to establish and maintain UHC programs therefore need to have a sound understanding of the pharmaceutical sector and those pharmaceutical system components that must be considered to ensure ready access to the pharmaceuticals needed to support any UHC program.

{Photo Credit: Rui Pires}Photo Credit: Rui Pires

At an event discussing maternal, newborn, and child survival, MSH’s country representative from Nigeria called for more attention on gestational diabetes (GDM) in her country.

The January 19 summit in Washington, DC, titled “Reaching the Last 25 Percent: Saving the Lives of Women and Newborns Through a Life Cycle Approach,” was convened by MSH, Novo Nordisk, and the NCD Roundtable. The meeting’s keynote address and two panel discussions focused on how governments, civil society, and the private sector in low- and middle-income countries are addressing maternal mortality and morbidity from non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

During a panel titled “Examples of NCD Integration in Maternal Health,” MSH Nigeria Country Representative Dr. Zipporah Kpamor discussed a recent pilot program that uses mobile health technology to measure blood glucose levels in pregnant women with GDM. The program aimed to provide women with faster, more convenient, and confidential blood glucose monitoring and a way to limit appointments, and reduce waiting time and transportation costs. The program was funded by MSH’s Internal Innovations Challenge (INCH) fund.

 {Photo credit: Brigid Boettler/MSH}Expert panelists discuss MDR-TB (from left): Joshua Michaud, Kaiser Family Foundation; Alexander Golubkov, USAID; Muluken Melese, MSH, Ethiopia; and Kenneth Mutesasira, MSH, Uganda.Photo credit: Brigid Boettler/MSH

“When we started our project in 2011, there was no system in place to identify multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB),” explained Muluken Melese, project director for the Help Ethiopia Address the Low Tuberculosis Performance (HEAL TB) project. However, since then, the five-year USAID-funded project, implemented by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), has expanded access to TB services to over half the population of Ethiopia and led a 15-fold increase in the number of MDR-TB patients on treatment.

 {Photo credit: Matt Martin/MSH}About 20 of the nearly 30 MSH staff attending the 4th annual ICFP gather for the opening ceremony.Photo credit: Matt Martin/MSH

Three weeks ago, nearly 3,500 family planning researchers, program managers, and policymakers came together in Nusa Dua, Indonesia to discuss the latest research findings and best practices on family planning at the 4th International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP). It was the largest gathering of family planning enthusiasts to date.

Nearly 30 MSH staff from 8 countries attended ICFP, showcasing our health systems expertise and experiences in family planning.

 {Photo: Sarah McKee/MSH}Youth delegates close out the 4th ICFP in song on January 28, 2016.Photo: Sarah McKee/MSH

A version of this post originally appeared on USAID's Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) project blog. Nearly 30 staff from Management Sciences for Health (MSH), including several from LMG, participated in the fourth International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP), January 25-28, 2016, in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, which called for "Global Commitments, Local Actions.” The conference was co-hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the National Population and Family Planning Board of Indonesia (BKKBN).

 {Photo: Matt Martin/MSH}(from left) Jonathan D. Quick, President & CEO, MSH, moderates the UHC and family planning (FP) access and accountability conversation with panelists: Chris Baryomunsi, Minister of Health, Uganda; Tira Aswitama, National Program Associate for RH and FP, UNFPA Indonesia; Kayode Afolabi, Director Reproductive Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria; Beth Schlachter, Executive Director, FP2020; John Skibiak, Director, RHSC; Melissa Wanda, Advocacy Officer, MSH Kenya.Photo: Matt Martin/MSH

Post updated February 19, 2016.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and universal access to sexual and reproductive health services figure prominently in the Sustainable Development Goals. So it is not surprising that The International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) maintained important focus on these topics, including through the Management Sciences for Health (MSH) auxiliary event, “Universal Access to Family Planning and Reproductive Health: Who’s Accountable in the Post-2015 Era?” on January 27. Co-sponsored by the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC) and Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), the event featured an illustrious group of panelists giving their perspectives on UHC, while exploring the intersection of health financing policy and accountability as countries move into universal access for family planning.

Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH, President and CEO of MSH, moderated the conversation and perhaps stated it best: “Now, more than ever, it is clear that getting family planning into national policies is critical.” 

{Photo: Gwenn Dubourthournieu}Photo: Gwenn Dubourthournieu

For the fourth year in a row, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) invited staff to submit stories about how health systems save lives and improve the health of the poorest and most vulnerable worldwide. MSH staff from 34 projects submitted over 50 stories from 2015. These 12 stories, selected by MSH staff judges, demonstrate how good storytelling and effective partnerships can save more lives.

In this special edition of our Global Health Impact Newsletter (subscribe), meet health workers, community leaders, pharmacy managers, beneficiaries working together toward healthier communities. Stories and authors appear alphabetically by country:


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