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: