February 2013

Mildred's Story: Treating HIV and Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases.Mildred's Story: Treating HIV and Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases.

Fact or fiction?

  • About 70% of all cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Nearly 30% of cancer deaths could be prevented.
  • Many cancers (such as breast, cervical and colorectal cancer) can be cured, if detected early and treated adequately.
  • Cancers are killing more people in developing countries than HIV & AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.

Answer? Fact. All of them are true.

Cancer is not only a disease of wealthy and elderly nations. The cancer burden on low- and middle-income countries is vast---and cancer deaths are projected to continue rising, with an estimated 13.1 million deaths in 2030. Living in poverty increases the risk of developing cancer, and dramatically reduces the odds of being treated. For example, 90% of child leukemia patients in the United States survive—but in developing countries, the opposite is true: nearly 90% die.

Conference attendees were still full of energy on the final day of Kenya’s First National Conference on Health Leadership, Management and Governance. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

After a very busy week scurrying around behind the scenes at Kenya’s First National Conference on Health Leadership, Management and Governance, the staff of the USAID-funded Leadership, Management and Sustainability project in Kenya (LMS/Kenya) gathered on Friday morning before the start of the fourth and final day. Generally, the last day of a conference is filled with summaries and closing-day formalities. But this time, Project Director Karen Caldwell informed us that we still had one essential task ahead. Our challenge was to assist the more than 250 participants to articulate, with a common voice, a clear and actionable “Way Forward” based on all of the rich and complex discussions of the many sessions, skills-building workshops, and networking meetings that had occurred during the past week. This is critical as Kenya is transitioning to a new health sector governance structure that will give responsibility for service delivery to the county-level authorities; for many conference attendees it was their first opportunity to discuss how they can shape and support this process.

I was circumcised when I was eighty days old, as is the tradition in Ethiopia. My sister was three. My mother had tried to spare us, but her aunt discovered that we were not circumcised and took it upon herself to have us circumcised.

Years later, I asked my aunt why she did it. Her response was not defensive. On the contrary, she responded very matter-of-fact: My sister and I were circumcised so that we could find a husband, have children, and become women. This is the cultural ideology that most Ethiopian women believed at that time, and unfortunately, that many still adhere to in the 21st century---an ideology and practice that is detrimental to a woman’s health.

Female genital circumcision alters or causes injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. There are no health benefits for girls. On the contrary, the procedure can lead to severe bleeding, infections, and problems urinating, during sexual intercourse, and complications in childbirth, as well as later cysts and increased risk of newborn deaths---not to mention the severe pain and shock of the procedure.

{Photo credit: MSH/South Africa.}Photo credit: MSH/South Africa.

Cross-posted from SHARE: Southern Africa HIV/AIDS Regional Exchange. (SHARE is an initiative of the USAID Southern Africa Regional HIV/AIDS Program with support from the Knowledge for Health project and the Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service.)

The Improving Performance of Nurses (IPN) project in Upper Egypt celebrated the first Arabic publication of Management Sciences for Health's (MSH)'s “Managers Who Lead” handbook with an event last November. A delegation of prominent leaders from Egypt’s health sector---including representatives from the Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP), Egyptian universities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), MSH, and USAID---attended the event in Cairo.

At the event, there was a feeling of hope for the future of the health sector in Egypt, and that this handbook is a small but important part of that future. Dr. Emad Ezat, director of health and nurses sector at MOHP, praised the book for helping to strengthen the performance of health organizations and improving health services. Dr. Abdo Al Swasy, IPN program manager, spoke of the work that had gone into the handbook and its importance. Dr. Gihan Fathy, IPN field manager, highlighted some of the tangible effects from the use of this book in the field, including building nurse leaders able to make decisions independently for positive changes in the health community.

Cross-posted with permission from the K4Health blog

With social media being a relatively new channel in the world of global health and development as a tool to share information, to advocate, as a marketing mechanism, or as a public health intervention tool, measurement is always a struggle when the path has not been set ahead of you. Many in the field of global health and development have trouble knowing where to start when measuring their project or organization’s social media presence.

Over on the Humanosphere blog, global health blogger Tom Murphy reported recently on changes at the Global Health Council (GHC), a membership-based coalition of global health practitioners, researchers and organizations.

After closing its doors last April, the GHC has reemerged with a more sustainable approach---and a new name: Global Health Coalition.

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) has provided support throughout the transition, and Dr. Jonathan Quick, President and CEO of MSH, is serving as interim board chair of the new GHC. Numerous other organizations are involved in the revival, including the Seattle-based Washington Global Health Alliance and the DC-based Global Impact, which is serving as the interim Secretariat.

Private sector companies, like McDonald's and General Electric, have successfully been using internal universities or academies for decades. So how can programming for health service managers be better, more cost effective and more sustainable? Embed programming within special “Leadership Academies” based in ministries of health.

Mary Ngari, Permanent Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Medical Services, addresses conference attendees on the first day. {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

In my 35 years working in international health, I've attended hundreds of conferences. Conferences are opportunities to exchange ideas and form connections. They’re often fascinating. But once in a while a conference itself can be a pivotal moment. A great example was last year’s International AIDS Conference, the first held in the United States after President Obama finally lifted the longstanding travel ban against foreigners living with HIV.

And recently, people around MSH, and throughout the Kenya health community, have been talking about Kenya’s First National Conference on Health Leadership, Management and Governance. The conference, held in early February, demonstrated the long-term vision of the Kenyans who are running the health system. These leaders understand the value of training health systems managers to improve the quality of service delivery.

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