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{Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization, addressing the Fourth Symposium on Health Systems Research in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo credit: Health Systems Global)}Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization, addressing the Fourth Symposium on Health Systems Research in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo credit: Health Systems Global)

Strong health systems can protect the poor and promote equity. That was the resounding main message at the Fourth Global Symposium on Health Systems Research, held in Vancouver, Canada, just a few weeks ago.

Policymakers, practitioners, and researchers at the symposium agreed: marginalized communities in low, middle, and high-income countries confront daily challenges that impede their health and lives. So experts called for global leaders to learn lessons both from poor and rich nations to address the inequities that exist in all communities. But a few other important themes echoed throughout the four-day event. And they are worth noting.

{Photo Credit: Matt Martin/MSH}Photo Credit: Matt Martin/MSH

 

On Friday, October 28, during the 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health, the Leadership, Management and Governance (LMG) Project, implemented by MSH, hosted an advance screening from The Lucky Specials, a movie demystifying TB. Accompanying the exclusive movie clips and animations, a dynamic panel discussion featured Catharine Taylor, Vice President, MSH; Aric Noboa, Producer, President, Discovery Learning Alliance; Laura Helft, PhD, Senior Science Researcher, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Allison Russel, MBBCh, Treatment Advisor, USAID RHAP; and moderator Rudi Thetard, Senior Technical Lead Infectious Diseases, MSH.

Lucky Specials Trailer

Photo Credit: Gwenn DubourthournieuPhoto Credit: Gwenn Dubourthournieu

On this World AIDS Day, we reflect on our global successes in scaling up HIV prevention and treatment efforts and averting new infections.

The “treat all” recommendation issued by the World Health Organization in 2015 was a critical milestone in the HIV response. Also known as “test and treat,” the recommendation expands antiretroviral therapy (ART) eligibility to include all people living with HIV, regardless of CD4 count, and recommends universal lifelong treatment.

This approach ensures that HIV-positive pregnant and breastfeeding women identified in antenatal care, during labor, or while breastfeeding, can benefit from the use of lifelong ART — also known as Option B+ — rather than starting and stopping treatment if they are ineligible upon cessation of breastfeeding, which is known as Option B.

The Option B+ approach simplifies treatment guidelines and prioritizes the health of pregnant women and mothers, and it has proven effective. According to UNAIDS, the number of new HIV infections among children has decreased by 56 percent globally since 2010.

{Photo Credit: Adama Sanogo/MSH}Photo Credit: Adama Sanogo/MSH
As we commemorate the international campaign"16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence,"  MSH reflects on our experiences working to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls.

“We remember the hard times the women and girls of Douentza have experienced,” said Animata Bassama, a representative of the women of Douentza, referring to the fighting and ensuing gender-based violence (GBV) that plagued Mali in 2012.

Animata spoke to a crowd of 100 government officials, NGO representatives, health and finance officials, women’s advocates, and community members. A new center for GBV survivors, fortified by concrete and adorned in yellow and pink, was her backdrop. 

“And to the entire population of Douentza, we must unite in peace and understanding to effectively manage this center together,” she continued. 

In May 2016, the FCI Program of MSH, with funding from UN Women, opened a center next to the Douentza Referral Health Center to provide a safe space for GBV survivors to seek medical and psychosocial care, as well as temporary shelter.

{A woman at provincial health services department in Sri Lanka. (Photo Credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank)}A woman at provincial health services department in Sri Lanka. (Photo Credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank)

This article was originally published on Devex on November 18, 2016

As finance advisers in global health, we are regularly in conversations with health ministers in low- and middle-income countries who have been charged with the commendable but daunting task of achieving universal health coverage for their citizens.

In other words, they must ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them, with special emphasis on serving the poor and disadvantaged. Our conversations often boil down to some key questions: How much will it cost, who will pay, and how do we ensure that funds are used effectively and responsibly?

Dr. Frank Mugabe, Manager of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Programme in Uganda, describes the urban DOTS model.

Thirty MSH staff coordinated 2 workshops and 7 symposia and contributed 13 oral and 53 poster presentations to the 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Liverpool from October 26 through 29—a historic presence at this event. USAID and WHO experts called the MSH-led symposia on multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and urban DOTS “outstanding.” In the area of urban DOTS, presenters described the successful approaches that MSH has used in Kabul and Kampala under Challenge TB/Afghanistan and Uganda Track TB.

Four main themes emerged from the conference:

{A clinic doctor befriends a child waiting for vaccination at Delma 75 clinic near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Photo Credit: Carole Douglis/MSH)}A clinic doctor befriends a child waiting for vaccination at Delma 75 clinic near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Photo Credit: Carole Douglis/MSH)

This is the last in a series of four blog posts about the impact of leadership, management, and governance in strengthening health systems. See the full series on our blog.

Hurricane Matthew weakened Haiti’s already vulnerable health system when it struck last month, adding to the many challenges that the country’s government already faces in providing quality health services to its population.

Now, more than ever, Haiti needs strong leadership, management, and governance in the health sector to strengthen the system and ensure that its people have access to the care they need.

Even before the storm, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere was already facing political instability, the lasting effects of the 2010 earthquake, and an ongoing cholera epidemic, all of which seriously impacted the country’s health system.

{Photo Credit: Sara Holtz/MSH}Photo Credit: Sara Holtz/MSH

Strong, well-functioning health systems need strong leadership, management, and governance. Over the next couple of weeks, leading up to conversations that MSH is hosting at the Global Symposium on Health Systems Research next month in Vancouver, we will be sharing stories and insights about the role of leadership, management and governance in health systems strengthening. This is the third in a series of four blog posts on this topic. See the full series

In my nearly 20 years of experience in global health, I have seen that leadership and governance often receives little attention, even though it is an essential building block of any strong health system.

This is why LeaderNet – an online global community of health professionals – recently hosted a seminar entitled Dream Teams: Bringing Boards and Staff Together for Organizational Success.

The seminar aimed to bring leadership and governance to the forefront of the conversation, providing a forum for global health professionals to exchange ideas, experiences, and resources about leading teams that work at all levels of health systems around the world.

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

Strong, well-functioning health systems need strong leadership, management, and governance. Over the next couple of weeks, leading up to conversations that MSH is hosting at the Global Symposium on Health Systems Research next month in Vancouver, we will be sharing stories and insights about the role of leadership, management and governance in health systems strengthening. This is the second in a series of four blog posts on this topic. See part one.

Linvell Nkhoma is a midwife manager at Mitundu Community Hospital in northern Lilongwe, Malawi. She lives on the hospital premises so she can be on call 24 hours a day for emergencies or complicated cases that less experienced midwives don't know how to manage.

"We have limited space, only three delivery beds for 400 deliveries a month," Linvell said.

Linvell and her colleagues were concerned about overcrowding, and more importantly, the high rates at which mothers and babies were dying during deliveries.

{Baby Anika, from northern Bangladesh, was diagnosed with TB at 22 months and was cured after 6 months of directly observed treatment. (Photo Credit: Francies Hajong/MSH)}Baby Anika, from northern Bangladesh, was diagnosed with TB at 22 months and was cured after 6 months of directly observed treatment. (Photo Credit: Francies Hajong/MSH)

This article was originally published on Devex on October 26, 2016

I was exposed to the plight of children with tuberculosis early in my 32 years of experience as a physician. I was a medical intern in a provincial hospital in Peru's jungle region. I noticed Adrian, a severely malnourished 3-year-old child in the corner of the ward, feverish and breathing with great difficulty. His condition didn't respond to pneumonia treatment, and a chest X-ray revealed liquid surrounding the right lung. My attending physician concluded that Adrian had severe malnutrition and pneumonia and decided to continue his antibiotic treatment.

Adrian died on the third day of my watch. An autopsy revealed the little boy had been afflicted with TB. That was likely why he died, not malnutrition or pneumonia. We later found out that Adrian was living with an uncle who had recently died "coughing blood." My attending physician confessed that he had been so focused on managing the presumed pneumonia that he didn't think about TB as an alternative diagnosis.

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