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{Photo credit: Katy Doyle/MSH, West Africa}Photo credit: Katy Doyle/MSH, West Africa

The following blog post is a web-formatted version of MSH's Global Health Impact newsletter (June 2015 edition), Good Governance Strengthens Health Systems. We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments. Get Global Health Impact in your inbox

Notes

by James A. Rice, PhD

What do we mean by governance? Governance is a structured process used by a group of people—often referred to as a governing body, board, or council—to make decisions about policy, plans, and rules of collective action for an organization or system. For health organizations, the focus of this collective action is strengthening health systems to expand access to quality health services and achieve sustainable gains in health outcomes.

{Photo credit: Rui Pires}Photo credit: Rui Pires

While at the World Federation of Public Health Associations meeting in India earlier this year, I met with a district health manager from Nigeria. He asked,

What is the value of having a District Health Council? It takes a lot of time to work with them; so what is the return on that invested time?

My Nigerian colleague is not the only one struggling to support the role of governing bodies. For years, governing bodies -– from district and provincial health councils to executive boards -– have been overlooked as valuable players in strengthening health systems.

“There are many examples of how investments in good governance lead to better health outcomes,” I said, “and many opportunities for supporting the under-supported leaders who govern through district health councils, hospital boards, or other governing bodies.”

We talked about how in the journey to stronger health system performance and greater health outcomes, it is not enough to have good leaders and managers to enable the talents of good health workers.

Strong health systems also need strong trustees serving on the organization’s governing body.

We determined that a good district health council -– or any good governing body –- amplifies the investment of time in at least three ways:

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

The benefits of good health governance are far-reaching: Leaders who govern facilitate the work of health managers. Health managers facilitate the work of health service providers.
- Management Sciences for Health

On May 11-13, 2015, the USAID-funded Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) Project, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), conducted an online seminar on LeaderNet titled Unleash the Power of Good Governance. Over the three-day seminar, 93 participants representing 75 organizations in 36 countries discussed challenges to good governance among public and civil society organizations, and how to overcome them. The seminar was offered in three languages: English, French and Spanish, and encouraged learning through source materials, the facilitators, and one another.

Three themes emerged from among the online discussion threads:

 {Photo by: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/nyayahealth/7157522726/">Possible</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY</a>}A female health volunteer surveys women to gather data in Nepal. Better health information is vital to achieving health goals.Photo by: Possible CC BY

In many developing countries, true life-and-death decisions hinge on information that’s old, unreliable or both.

Without strong national capacity for data collection, health officials are left in the dark when monitoring outbreaks of diseases like Ebola or trying to improve care for cancer patients. Many countries are unable to produce an accurate picture of their progress toward universal health coverage (UHC) or even assess their starting point.

Meanwhile, the global health community has rallied behind ambitious sustainable development goals for the post-2015 era, an agenda that adopts new priorities like achieving UHC and addressing noncommunicable diseases alongside updated targets for the health-related Millennium Development Goals. Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for health foresees countries’ taking increased ownership over health priority-setting and program implementation.

 {Photo credit: MSH staff}A woman and child visit an accredited dispenser in Tanzania.Photo credit: MSH staff

There are ways to make informal outlets fit for quality care in poor areas, say Jafary Hassan Liana and Martha Embrey.

{Photo credit: Susana Galdos/MSH, South Africa}Photo credit: Susana Galdos/MSH, South Africa

Just a few months ago, the province of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, captured the world’s attention for unfortunate reasons: xenophobic attacks on foreign African nationals. This week, from June 9 to 12 in Durban, the same province is hosting the 7th South African AIDS conference, a gathering expected to bring together thousands of activists from within the country, the Southern African region and, indeed, the rest of the continent and the world, to “reflect, refocus, and renew” efforts in response to HIV and AIDS.

{Photo credit: MSH staff/Haiti}Photo credit: MSH staff/Haiti

Multisector perspectives on achieving resilience in global health

Recent events, such as the Haiti and Nepal earthquakes and West Africa Ebola outbreak, have demonstrated, now more than ever, that a resilient health system is vital to ensuring stability and well-being in society. With this in mind, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and the USAID-funded, MSH-led, Leadership, Management, and Governance project in Haiti (LMG/Haiti), partnered with Johnson & Johnson to host a high-level panel event during the 68th session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland.

The event, entitled Building and Maintaining Resilience to Address Global Health Challenges, examined how the global health community can move beyond typical public-private partnerships to achieve a model of true country stakeholder engagement. This model would include and leverage the strengths of all actors to build systems capable of addressing long-term global health issues like non-communicable diseases while maintaining resilience to outbreaks like Ebola.

 {Management Sciences for Health and Novo Nordisk}Save Lives of Women & Newborns through Gestational Diabetes Screening: A Call to Action (Postcard: front)Management Sciences for Health and Novo Nordisk

Detecting and treating diabetes in pregnancy offers a simple, low-cost opportunity to improve maternal and child health and reduce maternal deaths. Yet, it has received scant attention as a public health priority, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

To put gestational diabetes on the global development agenda and call for action, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and Novo Nordisk sponsored a technical advocacy event on the sidelines of the 68th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva that closely examined gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and featured case studies and lessons learned from Ethiopia and Colombia.

[Catharine Howard Taylor, MSH Vice President, Center for Health Services, gives an overview of gestational diabetes and the need for routine screening to open the conversation.] {Photo credit: Barbara Ayotte/MSH}Catharine Howard Taylor, MSH Vice President, Center for Health Services, gives an overview of gestational diabetes and the need for routine screening to open the conversation.Photo credit: Barbara Ayotte/MSH

{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.

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