Blog Posts by Rachel Hassinger

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

"Medicines are a key component of treatments to save lives"

~ Kwesi Eghan, trained Ghanian pharmacist and MSH portfolio manager for the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) program in South Sudan and Afghanistan

A child in Tanzania has a fever for three days. A pregnant woman in Namibia is taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) to treat HIV and prevent transmission of HIV to her baby. A man in Swaziland suffers from drug-resistant TB and struggles to adhere to treatment.

Who helps ensure they take the right drug, at the right time, and for the right reason?

A pharmacist.

In many developing countries, pharmacists are primarily responsible for medicines selection, procurement, distribution, and explaining rational use of these medicines to their patients. But, many low- and middle-income countries suffer shortages of trained pharmacists. MSH and partners are helping countries and communities ensure that pharmacists and related health workers are equipped with the skills, systems, and support to provide quality services every day.

MSH's Douglas Keene, PharmD, MHS, Vice President, Pharmaceuticals & Health Technologies Group, was among the speakers at a recent event in Basel, Switzerland, hosted by Novartis, with representatives from NGOs, academia, and government discussing how to expand access to health in developing countries, including through the newly-launched program, Novartis Access.

MSH is partnering on Novartis Access to help empower governments of low- and lower-middle-income countries to provide access to health for chronic diseases patients who need it most. Ensuring affordable and equitable access to medicines is critical to achieving health for all -- and central to MSH's mission and health-systems strengthening approach.

 #Action2015.

More mothers and children under five are surviving, but progress is "uneven across regions and countries, leaving significant gaps", the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon confirmed today, July 6, launching the final Millennium Development Goals Report (2015). Child under-five mortality has been cut in half since 1990 (reduced from 90 to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births) and maternal mortality has been reduced 45 percent -- with much of the reduction occuring since 2000.

According to the UN press release:

Targeted investments in fighting diseases, such as HIV/AIDs and malaria, have brought unprecedented results. Over 6.2 million malaria deaths were averted between 2000 and 2015, while tuberculosis prevention, diagnosis and treatment interventions saved an estimated 37 million lives between 2000 and 2013.

Worldwide, 2.1 billion have gained access to improved sanitation and the proportion of people practicing open defecation has fallen almost by half since 1990.

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

MSH's May 2015 newsletter highlights the global health impact of pharmaceutical management: Ensuring access to affordable, quality medicines saves lives (subscribe).

Introduction

by Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH

Health care is largely dependent upon essential medicines for preventing infection, reducing pain, and treating illness. The development of effective medicines, however, is only the beginning.

Quality care means getting the right medicine, in the right dose, at an affordable price, for all the people who need it.

Accessible, affordable, and properly used medicines save lives. Major childhood killers like diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, and even HIV, are preventable or treatable with essential medicines. But for many children, where they live means the difference between life and death: some 30,000 children in developing countries die every year from diseases treatable with basic essential medicines.

Chryste D. Best recently was named one of the top 300 women in global Health. Best establishes the processes, procedures, and controls to ensure that all products procured and supplied by the Supply Chain Management System (SCMS) meet appropriate quality standards.

We spoke with MSH’s Chryste D. Best, BS, product quality assurance manager, The Partnership for Supply Chain Management (PFSCM), about her selection as one of the top 300 women leaders in global health by the Global Health Programme of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. Best provides innovative quality assurance oversight for the global procurement of medicines and commodities by MSH and partners.

{Photo credit: Todd Shapera, Rwanda}Photo credit: Todd Shapera, Rwanda

Rwanda is one of the "biggest success stories" of countries improving child survival since 2000, the BBC World News reported April 29, 2015, linking to a podcast on BBC's The Inquiry.  

Randy Wilson, Principal Technical Advisor, Management Sciences for Health (MSH), spoke with BBC The Inquiry's Helena Merriman about MSH's role supporting Rwanda's efforts, including training community health workers with RapidSMS to saves lives. Said Wilson:

We helped to introduce RapidSMS within the districts, training 45,000 community health workers, many of whom who had never touched a cell phone in their life.

Wilson continued: "If there's even the slightest evidence" of a health concern, RapidSMS "encourages the community health worker not only to refer, but also to accompany, the mother to a facility where they get proper care."

{Screenshot, BBC, April 29, 2015}Screenshot, BBC, April 29, 2015According to the BBC:

World Health Worker Week (April 6-10, 2015) is an opportunity to mobilize communities, partners, and policymakers in support of health workers in your community and around the world. It is a time to celebrate, raise awareness, and renew commitments to health workers having the training, supplies and support they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.

Meet some of the health worker heroes among us!

Muhamed Mulongo, acting district health officer, Uganda

[Dr. Muhamed Mulongo] {Photo credit: Cindy Shiner/MSH}Dr. Muhamed MulongoPhoto credit: Cindy Shiner/MSH

Muhamed Mulongo decided when he was a boy to become a doctor after accompanying his sister to the hospital in the middle of the night during difficult labor. The baby died.

I said to myself, 'I should be a doctor I think'.

Now he is the only surgical doctor in the eastern Ugandan district of Bulambuli.

You work here only when you love your job.

You always have to improvise. You have no choice -- you have to save people in the process.

When Mearege gets really sick, her husband leaves town. Bedridden and in the care of her parents, Mearege gets tested and learns she--and her daugther--are HIV-positive. Through the support of mother mentors, trained by the Ethiopia Network for HIV/AIDS Treatment, Care and Support Program (ENHAT-CS), Mearege finds solace, guidance, and healing -- and decides to have another child.

Mearege is one of many HIV-positive women in Ethiopia whose lives have been transformed, with the support of ENHAT-CS. Says Mearege:

I was able to have a healthy child because I followed up with the mentor mothers and applied their teaching...

Presented by ENHAT-CS in partnership with the National Network of Positive Women Ethiopians, this video is made possible by the generous support of the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Watch video

{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 by Rui Pires. Graphic by Paula Champagne.}Haiku for Universal Health Coverage Day (UHC Day) by Ian Sliney, MSH senior director for health systems strengthening.Photo by Rui Pires. Graphic by Paula Champagne.

Today, over 500 organizations and individuals worldwide are celebrating the first-ever Universal Health Coverage Day (UHC Day). All week, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) bloggers have shared stories, analysis, photos, and videos, in support of UHC Day and health for all:

Partnering to Make UHC a Reality
"For UHC to succeed worldwide, the global health community must generate what’s still missing: a fully-fledged roadmap for UHC efforts and an architecture for global UHC governance," blogs Jonathan Jay in Devex.

Adding Medicines to the UHC Equation
“Every person, no matter where they live, should have access to quality health services without risking financial hardship. But accessing quality health services is only half of the equation,” blogs Francis Aboagye-Nyame. “Every person should also have available to them medicines that are affordable, safe, effective, and of assured quality.”

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