For the sixth year in a row as part of MSH's annual storytelling contest, we invited staff to submit stories on how health systems are saving lives and improving the health of people around the world. MSH staff submitted dozens of stories from 13 projects in 11 countries.
In these 12 winning stories, meet health workers, community leaders, pharmacy managers, and patients working together toward healthier communities. These stories demonstrate the power of effective partnerships to help save lives.
Madagascar: Mobile Technology for Community Health
(Cross-posted on the Global Health Council website).
Between 2000 and 2015, great strides have been made in fighting malaria. Globally, malaria case incidences declined by 41% and mortality rates by 62%. However, approximately 212 million people were infected and 429,000 people died in 2015, with the majority being children under the age of 5 in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria also places a great financial burden on individuals and health systems. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, the annual cost of case management related to malaria is estimated at USD 300 million.
This is the last in a series of four stories about how strong health systems improve the health of women and children. It was originally published on Global Health Now's website.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has a chance to save millions of children with an inexpensive grassroots community effort.
Before the civil war in the late 1990s, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had a large network of clinics and health facilities. But decades of conflict weakened a fragile health system and robbed this resource-rich country of its potential to become one of sub-Saharan Africa’s wealthiest nations. By 2010, 70 to 80 percent of Congolese people had little or no access to healthcare, and the country suffered from a lack of basic security, communication systems, power, clean water, and transportation.
There are no magic bullets in life. For fixing a healthcare system, though, there is one approach that comes close: results-based financing. Management Sciences for Health (MSH) pioneered results-based financing in Haiti in 1999, and has been adapting and improving it ever since in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South-East Asia, including in fragile states.
Despite improvements in child survival in recent decades, children in low- and middle-income countries still suffer from illnesses virtually nonexistent in the industrial world.
Pneumonia is the deadliest of these, responsible for the death of 900,000 children under five worldwide in 2013—more than any other infectious disease.
This post is part of the #SaveMomsandKids blog and event series on proven, impactful practices that are advancing maternal, newborn, and child survival. The series is sponsored by MSH, Jhpiego, and Save the Children.
At three months old, Thérèse’s baby boy Ataadji was malnourished and unhealthy, weighing in at only six pounds. Within two months, Ataadji had transformed into a thriving, healthy baby boy and his weight had nearly tripled. The keys to this success? An Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) support group and exclusive breastfeeding.
This post originally appeared on the Frontline Health Workers Coalition blog.
I grew up in a village in northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and although I’m now a doctor and live in Kinshasa, I remember those days well.
I know what it’s like to live 23 kilometers from the nearest health center and to navigate forests and floods to get there. I know how a lack of something simple like antibiotics can cause a quick death. I’ve lost many peers from the village over the years and a lot of family members.
In fact, that’s why I became a physician.
Breastfeeding is a human right, and critical for the health of both newborn and mother. Newborns benefit from early skin-to-skin contact and the antibodies in the mother’s first milk, plus factors that protect against later obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes and asthma. Mothers benefit because early breastfeeding assists in uterine shrinkage and helps prevent postpartum bleeding. In addition, frequent, exclusive, breastfeeding reduces the likelihood of an immediate new pregnancy.
I'd like to introduce you to a special mother. Her name is Mama Sophie (meet her in this video). Seven months pregnant and experiencing pain, Sophie went to the Dipeta Health Facility in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): I thought maybe the baby was changing position in the womb, but…[they told me the baby was coming]. Sophie was frightened: she had lost two babies before. She wasn’t the only person concerned. Dipeta Health Facility has an incubator, but doesn't have a reliable source of electricity to use it. When I delivered...
Every year, pneumonia kills approximately 936,000 children under the age of five, accounting for 15 percent of all deaths within this age group. One of the worst affected countries is the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where pneumonia took the lives of nearly 50,000 children in 2013, including almost 7,000 newborns.
For the sixth year, people around the global are bringing awareness to this critical—and solvable—problem by commemorating World Pneumonia Day today, November 12th. This year’s theme is: “Universal access to pneumonia prevention and care”.
Although the global community has had significant success in reducing maternal and child deaths in the past two decades, they continue to die of preventable causes at an alarming rate. This is especially pronounced for the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations. Universal access to maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) commodities and services remains a major challenge, even among countries that are on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for reducing maternal and child mortality.
In commemoration of World Malaria Day, SIAPS joins the global health community in recognizing the remarkable strides that have been made in the fight against malaria. More than ever, people in malaria-endemic countries, especially those who are particularly vulnerable like mothers and children, are receiving effective prevention, diagnosis, and treatment services and have better access to life-saving antimalarial medicines and health supplies. In 2012, over 200 million rapid diagnostic tests and over 330 million courses of antimalarial treatment were provided globally.
This special January 2014 edition of the Global Health Impact Newsletter (subscribe) features 12 stories from 2013 highlighting how MSH is saving lives by strengthening health systems at all levels--from the household to the community to the health facility to national authorities. The stories were selected through an internal storytelling contest (available in print soon).
We are also pleased to share a post from President and CEO Jonathan D. Quick outlining our vision for 2014.
A Note from Dr. Jonathan D. Quick
Vision 2014: UHC and the Opportunity for a Healthy Life
Last month, I had the honor of welcoming United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah to Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during a visit that took place December 15-18, 2013.
Over one hundred years ago on this date, (August 20, 1897), British scientist Sir Ronald Ross discovered that infected female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans. (Like any vector borne disease, the malaria-causing parasite, Plasmodium, needs a specific host: in this case, the mosquito. The female mosquito needs blood to nourish her eggs; the male just eats nectar.) Dr. Ross received the Nobel Prize for his discovery that year. Today, we mark the day, August 20, as “World Mosquito Day.”
What’s all the buzz about?
All involved with women’s health and gender wish that access to quality health care for women and girls was easy to achieve at scale. But the attitudes and expectations of many societies limit women’s and girls’ access to resources and skills associated with better health.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a leading cause of death in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), partly due to a low case detection rate within the health system, compounded by little knowledge or awareness among patients of the disease’s symptoms. In the province of Sud Kivu, where people have relied on traditional healers for generations, those who were suffering from the persistent, painful coughing that is one symptom of TB were advised by traditional healers that they had been poisoned, and they were not referred to health centers.
Mobile phones are being used increasingly throughout Africa to improve health. The USAID-funded Democratic Republic of Congo-Integrated Health Project (DRC-IHP) is using mobile phone technology to increase the number of people referred to health centers in the project’s 80 targeted health zones.
Cross-posted from Frontline Health Workers Coalition.Evidence of the need to scale up the number of frontline health workers in developing countries abounds throughout sub-Saharan Africa, as described in a recent post on the Frontline Health Workers Coalition blog by Avril Ogrodnick of Abt Associates.
Last night, while in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) visiting our programs, I attended a US election-eve gathering of mostly Congolese people in Kinshasa. The DRC is one of those “distant nations” President Obama was referring to in his early morning acceptance speech today, where people are, “risking their lives just for… the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.”Fragile, conflict-ridden nations, such as the DRC, struggle with leadership and governance.
The October edition of MSH's Global Health Impact newsletter (subscribe), features stories of people, communities, and countries on the road toward universal health coverage (UHC).
The vital role of the essential package for health impact "Universal health coverage has two fundamental goals: maximizing health impact and eliminating — or at least reducing — impoverishment and bankruptcy due to healthcare costs," blogs MSH President Jonathan D. Quick.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Sud Kivu province has been an area of armed conflict for many years, with various rebel factions fighting for control over the resource-rich region.The continued fighting has disrupted health services --- which were weak to begin with --- due to geographic isolation and poorly supported health workers.In the health zone of Mulungu, there had been no delivery of medicines or supplies for more than six months.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, many women suffer complications during pregnancy and delivery, including obstetric fistula. Prolonged labor may result in a hole (“fistula”) between a woman’s birth canal and bladder or lower intestine, resulting in chronic leaking of urine or feces. This, in turn, leads to social isolation as the women can’t keep themselves clean, are ashamed of their condition, and withdraw from society. Many women and their families believe that this condition is due to a curse, leading to further separation from the community.
On this historic World Population Day --- the first with the world’s population at seven billion and growing --- we call your attention to a crucial summit in London happening today, and to the ongoing importance of supporting access to family planning and sexual and reproductive health.The London SummitOver one hundred high-level decision-makers are convening at The London Summit on Family Planning in hopes of securing a better future for women and girls globally.
Honor your mom today by supporting MSH's work to help support healthy mothers---like Imukalayi Eponga (right)---and their children around the world.Support healthy moms and their kids.Imukalayi was trained on "kangaroo mother care" by MSH in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kangaroo mother care is a simple technique that emphasizes human contact to keep the baby warm.This year, 7.5 million children will die - 99 percent in developing countries. In Africa alone, 1 in 8 children will die before their 5th birthday.
Today, April 25th, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) joins the global community marking World Malaria Day. "Sustain Gains, Save Lives: Invest in Malaria" -- the theme of this year's World Malaria Day -- recognizes this crucial juncture in the global fight against malaria.Significant gains have been made in the last ten years; since 2000, malaria mortality rates have decreased 25 percent globally, and 33 percent in Africa.
Nearly 50 countries, including Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Liberia and South Sudan, are considered a fragile or conflict-affected state -- a state that is in conflict, recovering from conflict or crisis, or a state that has collapsed or has a strong and repressive government.
Cross-posted on USAID's IMPACT blog.“Don’t they contain a poison?” he added, directing his question to Isaac Chishesa, a community mobilization specialist with USAID’s Democratic Republic of Congo-Integrated Health Project (DRC-IHP).Tough question! One Isaac was not expecting, at least not within a discussion among trained community health workers.An experienced community health professional, Isaac responded with a smile and said, “Thank you, my friend, for sharing your concern,” affirming the participants’ right to ask questions.
In June 2011, the CSIS Global Health Policy Center asked bloggers around the world, Do you think it's possible to create a unified social movement for NCDs, akin to the movements that already exist for individual chronic diseases? If so, why? If not, what initiatives can we implement in the place of an effective social movement to move an NCD agenda forward? Dr. Jonathan D. Quick was one of our four finalists.For three years, Lucy Sakala has counseled people seeking HIV tests at a District Hospital in Malawi. A year ago, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer.
It is 5:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning in the town of Mwene-Ditu, located in the Eastern Kasaï Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The skies are still dark as the crieur, the town crier, makes his rounds, calling out to the community that today is the start of the three-day national vaccination campaign against polio.As the local residents begin their day, health workers are finalizing preparations for the massive door-to-door effort to immunize children under age five years old from this crippling disease.
Fragile states such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Liberia, and Southern Sudan have among the worst health statistics – especially for women and children. For political, economic, security and other reasons they can be extremely challenging work environments.
On June 17, 2010, I was honored to attend and speak at a ceremony where Management Sciences for Health officially handed over 35 tons of life saving essential drugs to the Republic of Congo (DRC) in Kinshasa. The ceremony was chaired by Dr. Victor Makwenge Kaput, the DRC’s Minister of Health. These drugs represent the first half of an initial order of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies worth more than $ 1.5 million, and were made available through funding from USAID/DRC.