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MSH Vice President, Pharmaceuticals & Health Technologies Group, Dr. Douglas Keene, tells Devex how strong governance enables access to medicines.MSH Vice President, Pharmaceuticals & Health Technologies Group, Dr. Douglas Keene, tells Devex how strong governance enables access to medicines.

This week, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and Devex are talking about how to maximize the impact of access to medicines in low- and middle-income countries. Below are excerpts, descriptions, videos, and links to the conversation. See the full conversation on Access to Medicines.

By strengthening governance and promoting transparency, developing countries can be better equipped to regulate the flow of medicines and support their efficient and effective use. Countries could make much progress by assuring the quality of medicines, but what is really being achieved in practice?

Recent global crises such as Ebola and Zika have revealed the dangers of weak health systems. As countries work to strengthen these systems, Dr. Douglas Keene, vice president of the pharmaceuticals & health technologies group at MSH, advises policymakers to first start by addressing existing regulations and governance.

Aster, a grandmother living with diabetes and TB, invited MSH to accompany her on a visit to the pharmacy at the local hospital in Debre Markos, Ethiopia.

written by Daphne Northrop, video by Emily Judem

How do you ensure that patients get the medicine they need -- at the right dose, when they need it, no matter the circumstances?

Answering that question became the foundation of an enduring partnership between Management Sciences for Health (MSH), USAID, and country governments around the world. Over the past 30 years, as a result of that partnership, countries have made monumental progress in building the systems that move medicines to their final destination: the people who need them.

Medicine Movers, a new microsite by MSH, tells the stories of patients who continue to benefit from these pharmaceutical systems, launched during the peak of the AIDS epidemic.

{Photo credit: MSH staff, South Africa}Photo credit: MSH staff, South Africa

This post, first published on The Huffington Post, is part 5 in the MSH series on improving the health of the poorest and most vulnerable women, children, and communities by prioritizing prevention and preparing health systems for epidemics. Join the conversation online with hashtag .

Struck with a prolonged and worsening illness, Faith, a 37-year-old Nairobi woman raising her two children, sought help from local clinics. She came away each time with no diagnosis and occasionally an absurdly useless packet of antihistamines. Finally, a friend urged her to get an HIV test. When it came back positive, Faith wanted to kill herself, and got hold of a poison.

All epidemics arise from weak health systems, like the one that failed to serve Faith. Where people are poor and health systems are under-resourced, diseases like AIDS, Yellow Fever, Ebola, TB, Zika, Malaria, steadily march the afflicted to an early grave, decimating families, communities and economies along the way.

{Photo: MSH staff/Tanzania}Photo: MSH staff/Tanzania

Invest in teenage girls. Change the world.

Sylvia, age 16, knew little about HIV & AIDS or reproductive health when she started primary school. Now, she says: “I am not scared by the pressure from boys and other girls to engage in early sex, I know my rights and am determined to fulfill my vision of completing my education.” Sylvia is one of 485 girls in 6 eastern Ugandan schools who received integrated sexual and reproductive health and HIV information.

Today, July 11, we commemorate World Population Day 2016 and the midpoint toward reaching the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) goal to ensure the right of 120 million additional women and girls to access contraception. More than half of the 7 billion people on earth are under the age of 30. Most of the FP2020 focus countries are in the very regions of the world where we find (a) the highest population of youth and (b) more marginalized and disenfranchised young people. In many of the world's poorest countries, people aged 15 to 29 will continue to comprise about half of the population for the next four decades.

 {Photo credit: Cindy Shiner/MSH}A mother waits for the nurse to vaccinate her baby during an immunization clinic at Phebe Hospital in central Liberia.Photo credit: Cindy Shiner/MSH

Stronger health systems are critical to preventing outbreaks from becoming epidemics. In fragile states, systems already weakened by conflict, disaster, or instability can crumble under the weight of an outbreak -- devastating access, availability, and quality of basic health for women and their families.

 {Photo credit: Warren Zelman Photography}A pharmacy/clinic window in Democratic Republic of the Congo.Photo credit: Warren Zelman Photography

Strong health systems are necessary to help prevent and mitigate epidemics, including the oft-overlooked epidemic of antimicrobial resistance.

This is the third post in a new series on improving the health of the poorest and most vulnerable women, girls, families, and communities by prioritizing prevention and preparing health systems for epidemics (see also: Part 1 and Part 2). Join the conversation online with hashtag .

 {Photo credit: MSH staff}Irene Koek of USAID’s Global Health Bureau gives closing remarks at the health security side event in Geneva.Photo credit: MSH staff

This is the second in a new series on improving the health of the poorest and most vulnerable women, girls, families, and communities by prioritizing prevention and preparing health systems for epidemics (read Part 1). Join the conversation online with hashtag .

World Health Assembly and Beyond: Advancing the Global Health Security Agenda

Outbreaks are inevitable. Epidemics are preventable.

Last month, the No More Epidemics campaign convened a high-level, multi-sectoral panel on the Global Health Security Agenda during the 69th World Health Assembly (WHA69) in Geneva, Switzerland.

{Photos: Warren Zelman (left); Associated Press/Aurelie Marrier d’Unienvil (right)}Photos: Warren Zelman (left); Associated Press/Aurelie Marrier d’Unienvil (right)

This is the first in a new series on improving the health of the poorest and most vulnerable women, girls, families, and communities by prioritizing prevention and preparing health systems for epidemics. Join the conversation online with hashtag .

Prioritizing prevention of regional epidemics and global pandemics

{Photo: Warren Zelman}Photo: Warren Zelman

Last month, MSH President & CEO, Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH, urged G7 leaders (Huffington Post Impact) meeting in Ise-Shima, Japan, to prioritize pandemic prevention:

 {Photo credit: Matthew Martin/MSH}Mark R. Dybul, executive director of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, expressed enthusiastic support for strategies combating epidemics in his keynote address.Photo credit: Matthew Martin/MSH

The No More Epidemics campaign convened a multi-sectoral panel on “Advancing the Global Health Security Agenda” at the 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland on May 25, 2016. Keynote speaker, Mark Dybul, MD, Executive Director of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, expressed enthusiastic support for strategies combating epidemics. Dybul emphasized the importance of community level engagement in infectious disease preparedness and response, stressing that interventions cannot end at a health clinic, they must continue on to the “last mile”.

The panel was comprised of H.E. Kesetebirhan Admasu, MD, Minister of Health, Ethiopia; H.E. Aníbal Velasquez Valdivia, MD, Minister of Health, Peru; H.E. Elioda Tumwesigye, MD, Minister of Health, Uganda; as well as David Barash, MD, Chief Medical Officer, GE Foundation; and Minister Renne Klinge, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Finland to Geneva.

The discussion, moderated by MSH President and CEO, Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH, highlighted the need to ensure that epidemic prevention, preparedness and response capabilities are sustainable under the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA).

 {Photo: Joey O'Loughlin}Women Deliver attendees celebrate the launch of the FCI Program of MSHPhoto: Joey O'Loughlin

The FCI Program of MSH will maintain and strengthen the spirit and vision of FCI...
–Dr. Jonathan D. Quick, MSH

MSH hosted a lively reception at the close of the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. More than 150 guests joined us to celebrate the recently-launched FCI Program of MSH, an advocacy and accountability program drawing upon the staff and projects of Family Care International (FCI). The work of the FCI Program of MSH builds on FCI’s 30-year history of effective advocacy for improved maternal, newborn, and adolescent health and for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Women Deliver began in 2007 as a program of FCI, so this 4th and largest-ever Women Deliver conference was an especially appropriate place to honor FCI’s legacy and celebrate the FCI Program’s future within MSH.

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