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{Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

This story was originally published by The Hill.

No sooner had one outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) been declared over than another broke out. The latest outbreak is particularly threatening as it is in North Kivu province, an area beset with violence between rival militia groups. On top of struggling with violent conflict that has lasted, in some areas, for more than 20 years, the DRC is one of the world’s poorest countries and lacks a well-developed infrastructure.

Infectious disease outbreaks are more dangerous in countries like the DRC because fragile or severely off-track countries have little health care infrastructure to support the necessary steps to contain the outbreak. Although the DRC has had many Ebola outbreaks and more experience containing the disease than any other country, the conflict environment exacerbates the threat.

{Photo credit: Mark Tuschman}Photo credit: Mark Tuschman

This story was originally published on Global Health NOW’s website.

It’s a public health nightmare: 250,000 doses of substandard vaccines for diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus administered to children through a government health program. While China has had scandals over tainted food or drugs before, this recent debacle threatens to destroy already shaky public confidence in the country’s growing pharmaceutical industry.

Meet Andrew Etsetowaghan, Associate Director for Technical Services with the CaTSS project in Nigeria. Fueled by a passion to help others since childhood, Andrew was determined to find a way to fulfill his dreams. He decided to pursue medicine—otherwise becoming a priest or superhero—and dedicate his career to improving health systems in his community. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Describe your daily work briefly.

My work day starts quite early, usually by 7:30 a.m., where I review key tasks to be done or pending from the previous day. I meet frequently with thematic leads (ART, quality improvement, OVC, gender, supply chain systems, laboratory advisor) to track programmatic performance against achievements. And I work with field-based teams to improve service delivery and follow-up on all reporting deadlines as needed. One of the most enjoyable parts of my day is our daily communal breakfast meal, where the entire team comes together to have bean cake, usually between 7:30–8:30 a.m. It is a great bonding time—something I recommend for anyone visiting Nigeria.

How did you get to where you are today?

Dr. Mark Dybul, MSH’s newest board member, has been a leader in global health policy as Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria during the Obama administration and as head of the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) during the Bush administration. Dybul is Professor of Medicine and Faculty Co-Director of the Center for Global Health and Quality at Georgetown University Medical Center. He brings tremendous experience and insight into MSH’s work to strengthen systems that improve the health of the world’s most vulnerable populations, including those living with HIV.

As we prepare for the 22nd International AIDS Conference, we sat down with Dybul to discuss the fight against HIV and AIDS, the need for strong systems to support a more effective and sustainable response, and how we must leverage those systems beyond HIV to improve health more broadly. 

Mark Dybul: Building Systems for Health to End HIV and AIDS

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

 {Photo Credit: Pablo Romo}Iginia Badillo delivered her child at Huasca Health Center under the care of midwifery interns supported by the FCI program of MSH.Photo Credit: Pablo Romo

By providing compassionate and culturally appropriate care to women throughout their reproductive life, trained and supported midwives are critical to closing the gaps in human resources for health and helping to reduce maternal and newborn deaths. Gloria Flores, a licensed nurse and perinatal specialist from Morelos state, Mexico, is working to improve the quality of care moms and babies receive and to help mainstream professional midwifery practice at the primary health care level.

[Gloria Flores, licensed nurse and perinatal specialist in Morelos state, Mexico]Gloria Flores, licensed nurse and perinatal specialist in Morelos state, MexicoWith the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the FCI Program of MSH is helping to build the policy and advocacy skills of midwives like Gloria Flores, further equipping them to become advocates and leaders in the health system. The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) interviewed Flores to about some of the challenges she faces in her work and how she’s working to change the status quo around midwifery practice in Mexico.

 {Photo credit: MSH}Loyce Pace of the Global Health Council moderates an expert panel at the WHA71 side event in Geneva, May 22, 2018. Panelists included Dr. Diane Gashumba, Rwanda’s Minister of Health; Catharina Boehme, CEO of the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics; and Rüdiger Krech, Director of Health Systems and Innovation at WHO.Photo credit: MSH

Is the world safer today from the threat of infectious diseases than it was a generation ago?

It is true that we have more tools at our disposal: better surveillance and diagnostic systems, stronger frameworks and regulations, such as the Global Health Security Agenda and Joint External Evaluations (JEE), and a deeper understanding of how diseases spread and what is needed to stop them. It is also true that climate change, deforestation, population growth, and our proximity to farm and wild animals are making the threat of epidemics greater than ever before. Although the challenge is great, we have the knowledge to solve it. So what do we need to do?

{Photo Credit: Warren Zelman}Photo Credit: Warren Zelman

This story was originally published on Devex

The World Health Organization recently issued a statement calling on all countries to make three specific commitments to universal health coverage and be prepared to announce them at the World Health Assembly, which begins May 21.

UHC — the assertion that every person must have access to the health services they need, when and where they need them, without facing financial hardship — improves health. But that’s not all: It reduces poverty, creates jobs, drives economic growth, promotes gender equality, and prevents epidemics. It’s a momentous occasion and a great opportunity to start making real progress toward UHC.

But unless country commitments include efforts to strengthen pharmaceutical systems, communities will continue to struggle with inadequate health services and rising health costs that put their health and economic well-being in peril.

Elimase Kamanga is a mother, a midwife for more than 15 years, and the Senior Technical Advisor for Maternal and Newborn Health for the USAID-funded Organized Network of Services for Everyone’s (ONSE) Health Activity, led by MSH. Chisomo Mdalla, ONSE’s Chief Communications and Knowledge Exchange Officer, talked with Kamanga about her work to improve the quality of care for mothers and newborns in Malawi. This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Elimase, can you tell us about how you got to where you are today?

It’s quite a long story. I grew up in a very poor family in a village near Kasungu, here in Malawi. But my mom still encouraged me to go to school. Even though I would go to school without shoes, without enough books, maybe even on an empty stomach, I still rose up to go to secondary school. I was also privileged to be selected by the government to go to the University of Malawi’s Kamuzu College of Nursing.

{Photo Credit: Warren Zelman}Photo Credit: Warren Zelman

This story was originally published by Women Deliver.

In recent decades, a great deal of resources have been invested in the delivery of essential health services, especially through support to the six building blocks of strong health systems – health financing, health workforce, health information, health governance, medical products, and service delivery. These investments have been hugely important and effective in forming a foundation, supporting frontline health workers to save lives, and in securing unprecedented commitment to the common goal of achieving universal health coverage (UHC).

But the fact remains that over half the world’s population – women, children, and adolescents in particular - is still unable to access the high quality health services they need.

Women, children and adolescents remain underserved by health systems and suffer a disproportionate burden of morbidity and mortality, which endangers the broader well-being of the whole of society.

 {Photo Credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH}A mother in Madagascar who has been sensitized on the use of bed nets.Photo Credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH

World Malaria Day: A Conversation with Dr. Bernard Nahlen

[Dr. Bernard Nahlen]Dr. Bernard NahlenThe theme for World Malaria Day this year is MSH’s newest Board Member, Dr. Bernard Nahlen, recently spoke with Thomas Hall, MSH’s Senior Principal Technical Advisor for Malaria, about reducing the malaria burden in developing countries most affected by the disease. Dr. Nahlen, Director of the University of Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health, has decades of experience in research and disease elimination programs worldwide. Prior to his recent appointment at the Eck Institute, Dr. Nahlen served as Deputy Coordinator of the US President’s Malaria Initiative from 2007 to 2017. From 2005 to 2006, he was Senior Advisor, Monitoring and Evaluation, at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  

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