Country Ownership: MSH Representatives and Partners Share Stories of Health Impact

Country Ownership: MSH Representatives and Partners Share Stories of Health Impact

 {Photo credit: Paula Champagne/MSH.}MSH country representatives, Mr. Bada Pharasi (South Africa), Ziyanda Ngoma (South Africa), Ana Diaz (Angola), Dr. Negussu Mekonnen (Ethiopia), and Percy Ramirez (Angola).Photo credit: Paula Champagne/MSH.

Pablos-Méndez Applauds and Encourages MSH Representatives and Partners at DC Country Health Impact Fair

Representatives from 13 MSH countries—Afghanistan, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda—shared stories and materials about the lives saved and health impact of MSH’s work, in partnership with US Agency for International Development (USAID) and others, at the MSH Country Health Impact Fair at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC, last week. Country ownership and health impact were common themes at the fair.

Ariel Pablos-Méndez (MD, MPH), assistant administrator for global health at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), addressed participants and attendees.

Dr. Pablos-Méndez thanked MSH President & CEO Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH, and MSH for the early and ongoing support for universal health coverage (UHC):

You were an early champion of what has become an incredible movement.

Pablos-Méndez cited Quick’s “brilliant leadership” on essential medicines at the World Health Organization (WHO), and “commitment, intelligence, and sense of possibilities” for achieving UHC globally.

Country health impact also describes the MSH way of working with global and national partners, empowering local leaders to build and sustain strong health systems.

“Strengthening stewardship of health systems will be important going forward, and you are doing that with SIAPS [Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceutical Systems], LMG [Leadership, Management, and Governance] projects—pharmaceutical systems and leadership and governance.”

It is “great to see what you do,” said Pablos-Méndez, also naming GMS [Grant Management Solutions] and MSH technical assistance to The Global Fund, advances in tuberculosis (TB) care and control through TB CARE I, and more.

You are one of our largest partners in global health.

MSH President Quick, a family physician, welcomed Pablos-Méndez of USAID, other partners, and MSH representatives: "At MSH, our vision is 'A world where everyone has the opportunity for a healthy life.'"

Quick highlighted MSH and USAID partnerships in fragile and post-conflict countries, like Afghanistan, Rwanda, and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Decades ago in Afghanistan, there were no female health workers,” Quick described. Nine out of ten women went into labor without a skilled birth attendant. By 2010, through USAID, MSH, and other partners supporting the Afghan Ministry of Health, maternal mortality had fallen by more than half, and death of neonates and children under five had decreased by 70 percent.

“In Rwanda, a decade after the genocide, the health system was in a shambles," continued Quick. Through interventions such as the implementation of performance-based financing—contractually connecting health workers’ pay to specific health outcomes—the Rwandan health system has significantly reduced maternal and child mortality.

Quick thanked USAID for the ongoing partnerships with MSH, and mentioned the importance of educating the decision makers in congress on the incredible impact of the USG’s generosity, and how the decisions they make can save lives in low- and middle-income countries.

"Better economies mean better health"

Thirty to thirty-five years ago, many countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, were “crippled by crisis” with the AIDS epidemic, said Pablos-Méndez: "We have had unprecedented gains in health in the last 20 years. Life expectancy has risen. Through our work in public health, we have gained some of what AIDS took away in previous years."

This is an incredible moment for global health, truly an incredible era for development. Income and per capita in the world has risen. Better economies mean better health.

One-hundred million children’s lives have been spared… a fantastic accomplishment.

Pablos-Méndez continued: 

As countries move from low- to middle-income status, often out-of-pocket health expenditures rise. Nearly 20 countries in Africa now have middle-income status. This is where UHC is important.

Pablos-Méndez pointed to a "grand convergence" occuring between poor and rich countries that will close the life expectancy gap. Some countries are moving well in that direction, he said, but “we need to ensure all, so we can reach the grand convergence by 2035.” "This grand convergence—we are not imagining; it is already happening in Latin America and Asia. I am optimistic about the future [for Africa]."

What will the next five years be like for global health development?

Addressing the MSH country representatives in the room, Pablos-Méndez said:

The work you do in health systems is critical.

When he established USAID, President Kennedy said that we will continue until our system is no longer needed. Development is not there yet—we’ll probably still be at it in 20 years.

You at MSH are helping make [country ownership] happen.

Because of our successes, we feel emboldened for the future.

We will all be in a much better world because of your work. You should be proud.

MSH representatives applauded the encouraging words. Said Pablos-Méndez:

We all need to celebrate. This generation is making history on global health. I am optimistic for the future when we will have an AIDS free generation, UHC, and Promise Renewed for children.

The power of ideas to change the world is my mantra.

Photos from MSH Country Health Impact Fair

(All photos by Paula Champagne/MSH.)

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(Editor's note, April 16, 2014: This post was revised today to update the title and introduction and add the photo slideshow.)

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