Health Systems Strengthening in the Spotlight at the 70th World Health Assembly

Health Systems Strengthening in the Spotlight at the 70th World Health Assembly

MSH Delegation: Matthew Martin, Crystal Lander, Catharine Taylor, Marian Wentworth, Stuart Knight, Barbara Ayotte, and Alison Corbacio

As the Trump Administration released its truncated global health budget last week, ministers of health, members of civil society and the private sector, and government delegations met in Geneva for the annual World Health Assembly to discuss programs that exemplify the value of foreign assistance and its tangible effect on families in some of the poorest countries. In advance of the meeting, MSH released position statements on WHA agenda items. Dozens of governments led by Germany and South Africa, signed the Global Compact for Universal Health Coverage 2030 committing to make affordable and quality healthcare accessible for all. This year’s WHA was particularly historic with the nomination of the WHO’s first African Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, whose partnership with USAID and other donors and partners has led to improved health for millions of women and children in Ethiopia. 

Health systems strengthening, universal health coverage, global health security, and the challenge of non-communicable diseases were key themes this year. MSH convened multiple sessions on health systems strengthening. Here are some highlights of the week.

Enabling Global Health Security through Health Systems Strengthening: Perspectives from Women Leaders

May 22, 2017

Given the intersection between global health security and women’s health, as well as women’s unique role in strengthening health systems, it is critical to include women’s perspectives in the conversation. This all-women panel examined the enablers of health security, including strengthening primary care, adequately training health workers, leveraging technology, supporting regulatory capacity, and good governance.

Keynote speaker Hon. Jane Ruth Aceng, Minister of Health of Uganda noted that after 10 years of implementation of the International  Health Regulations, Uganda has made good progress piloting core interventions such as: enabling legislation, monitoring antimicrobial resistance, real time surveillance, strengthening labs, surveillance of food safety, and more. All of these are sustained with a health systems strengthening approach. Health systems strengthening not only enhances global health security but improves health and reduces maternal and child mortality. Minister Aceng invited participation in the upcoming High Level Ministerial meeting in Uganda in October on global health security.

[Ms. Diah Saminarsih, Special Staff to Minister of Health, Republic of Indonesia. “Increasing status of women increases the health profile of a country.”]Ms. Diah Saminarsih, Special Staff to Minister of Health, Republic of Indonesia. “Increasing status of women increases the health profile of a country.”

[The panel included Dr. Rebecca Martin, Director of Center for Global Health, Centers for Disease Control; Ms. Jennifer Esposito, General Manager, Global Health & Life Sciences, Intel  Corp; Ms. Diah Saminarsih, Special Staff to Minister of Health, Republic of Indonesia; Dr. Katherine Bond, Vice President, International Regulatory Affairs, USP; Ms. Terri Bresenham, Vice President and CEO, Sustainable Healthcare  Solutions, GE Healthcare; and Dr. Beth Cameron, Senior Director, Global Biological Policy and Programs, Nuclear Threat Initiative. Moderator was Loyce Pace, President and CEO, Global Health Council. Panel was opened by Tina Flores (not pictured), Vice President, Rabin Martin.]

The panel included Dr. Rebecca Martin, Director of Center for Global Health, Centers for Disease Control; Ms. Jennifer Esposito, General Manager, Global Health & Life Sciences, Intel Corp; Ms. Diah Saminarsih, Special Staff to Minister of Health, Republic of Indonesia; Dr. Katherine Bond, Vice President, International Regulatory Affairs, USP; Ms. Terri Bresenham, Vice President and CEO, Sustainable Healthcare Solutions, GE Healthcare; and Dr. Beth Cameron, Senior Director, Global Biological Policy and Programs, Nuclear Threat Initiative. Moderator was Loyce Pace, President and CEO, Global Health Council. Panel was opened by Tina Flores (not pictured), Vice President, Rabin Martin.

MSH President and CEO, Marian Wentworth closed out the session by reminding the audience: Strong health systems require women’s leadership at the top and on the frontlines, strong human resources, good information systems, strong labs and supply chains as well as a multisector approach—strong health systems are an all hands-on deck approach: all have to participate.

Priorities for the New WHO Director-General

May 23, 2017

The WHO plays a critical role in setting policy for global health; with the diverse challenges faced by low- and middle-income countries, everyone, including our panel of experts, had recommendations for the new Director-General. The US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Thomas Price, kicked off the discussion with recommendations from the US government perspective: building the right team, assessing WHO’s convening role, and empowering women and youth.

 

Keynote speaker Dr. Thomas Price, US Secretary of Health and Human Services, “The US strongly supports the WHO. Together, we are working to attain a greater level of health for all. The next emergency is not if, but when. The US looks forward to working with the next Director-General.”

The panel included Dr. Mark Dybul, Executive Director, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; Ms. Jan Beagle, Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS; Mr. John Flannery, President and CEO, GE Healthcare; Loyce Pace, President and CEO, Global Health Council; Dr. Ashish Jha, Director, Harvard Global Health Institute. Moderated by Jenifer Healy, Counsel, Dentons US LLP.

We are currently synthesizing the content of the rich discussion and, after review by our panelists, we will disseminate a document outlining the priorities for the next Director-General of the WHO, as discussed at the event, and deliver it to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General Elect.

A recording of the event can be found here.

Against all Odds: Strengthening Health Systems to Better Serve Vulnerable Women and Children

May 23, 2017

Over 1.5 billion people are living in settings affected by, or recovering from crisis. This panel discussed how to build resilient health systems during and after natural or man-made crises. From the front line health worker to the tertiary hospital, the system must address the local problems and must work for women and children. The diverse group of panelists shared specific solutions their organizations were implementing to improve maternal, newborn, and child health in a variety of settings.

(L-R): Dr. Nosa Orobaton, Deputy Director, Maternal Newborn and Child Health, Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation; Mr. Jude Nwokike, Director, Promoting the Quality of Medicines Program, US Pharmacopeial Convention; Ms. Samalie Kitooleko, Registered Nurse, Uganda Heart Institute; Dr. Ed Kelley, Director, Dept. of Service Delivery and Safety, WHO. Moderator: Catharine Taylor, Vice President, Health Programs, Management Sciences for Health.

If you would like to view photos from the event, you can follow this link. A recording of the event can be found here.

MSH also cosponsored private events: "Crucial Conversations" and "The Future of NCDs in the Evolving Global Health Landscape" (May 24, 2017). Both events were focused on engaging participants in thought-provoking discussions about the realities surrounding integrated care, health financing, and the changing resources available for global health.

The event participants appreciated the opportunity for an open dialogue about the tough choices faced by governments, donors, and implementers as we consider what is required to address the growing disease burden in resource-limited settings and seek solutions. It is an issue the global health community needs to address, and we appreciate the expertise brought to the round table discussion.

MSH hosted a welcome reception to introduce our new President and CEO, Marian  Wentworth, to WHA delegates. Jeff Sturchio, President and CEO of Rabin Martin, interviews Marian at the Geneva Press Club.

The Global Compact for UHC2030 was signed by dozens of ministers of health at a ceremony at the Palais on May 24. MSH looks forward to working together with UHC2030 in the coming year to help countries work toward realizing UHC by 2030.

For more coverage of the 70th World Health Assembly, view tweets at .

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