February 2014

{Photo credit: Mike Wang, courtesy of Photoshare.}Photo credit: Mike Wang, courtesy of Photoshare.

In Kenya, cancer is ranked third as a cause of mortality and morbidity after communicable and cardiovascular diseases.

The Ministry of Health, supported by the USAID-funded, Management Sciences for Health (MSH)-led, Health Commodities and Services Management (MSH/HCSM) Program, led the development and launch of the First National Guidelines for Cancer Management in Kenya, in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO), Africa Cancer Foundation, and other stakeholders.

The Cancer Guidelines are intended to help increase access to cancer screening, early diagnosis, referral and management of diagnosed cases.

In Kenya, cancer-related services have previously been available only in the top private hospitals and the public teaching and referral hospitals, which have restricted access to a few well-to- do individuals who can afford the related costs. The guidelines de-mystify cancer management and have outlined the core health system requirements needed to offer services in the different tiers of health care, including: community, primary care, county referral and national referral hospitals.

{Photo credit: Rui Pires.}Photo credit: Rui Pires.

In the beginning of my medical career during the early 1990’s, I witnessed the devastating effects of HIV & AIDS.  Nearly 60 percent of the hospital beds I attended were filled with AIDS patients, many of them my close friends and colleagues. At the time, little was known about the AIDS epidemic; no effective treatments were available; and as a physician, I watched helplessly as day after day those closest to me suffered until their death.  

Today, almost three decades later, thanks to increased prevention and access to care and treatment for HIV, most of these hospital beds have emptied of HIV & AIDS patients.  Now, these same beds are filled by those suffering from preventable chronic diseases, including vaccine-preventable cancers.

Today, February 4, we commemorate World Cancer Day, joining the global community to raise awareness about the global cancer epidemic, and renew our commitment to address cancer in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs).

{Photo credit: Rui Pires.}Photo credit: Rui Pires.

We do a lot of things in the name of culture. From our hair to our food to our ceremonies, culture informs our identity, our very understanding of who we are, and how we fit into this world.

In countries where female genital cutting is widely practiced, “culture/tradition/religion” feature prominently among the reasons why the practice began, and why it is perpetuated. In fact, there is no religious reason for this practice, also known as female genital mutilation, FGM, or FGM/C. Yet, those who support the continuation of FGM/C often invoke the name of their culture, or tradition, or religion as dictating their actions.

Culture viewed from this perspective is oppressive—denigrated into a static phenomenon, unchanging, and uninformed by new knowledge. It is only when we accept culture as a dynamic force–one which is ever changing and evolving–that we proudly can identify with, and derive our identities from it.

Culture can be a powerful positive force in our lives if we dare to challenge it.

{Photo credit: Todd Shapera.}Photo credit: Todd Shapera.

This post originally appeared on The Lancet Global Health Blog.

A strong civil society is essential for realizing the lofty goal of achieving universal health coverage (UHC). While the ongoing global discussions around UHC have largely focused on the role of government and development partners in designing and implementing risk pooling mechanisms that have the potential to improve access to essential health services, there has been little discussion on the key role that local civil society organizations (CSOs) play to ensure various communities support UHC and hold governments accountable.

{Photo credit: Rui Pires.}Photo credit: Rui Pires.

Post updated: February 19, 2014 to include Feb. 20 webcast link, hashtag, and new UNFPA speaker.

You are invited to join MSH and our partners for two exciting events this month in Washington, DC, and Brooklyn, New York.

On Thursday, Feb. 20, President & CEO Dr. Jonathan D. Quick will join Drs. Ana Langer and Jacqueline Mahon at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, for a critical discussion on addressing gender-based inequalities in health through a shared maternal health and universal health coverage (UHC) post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

On Thursday, Feb. 27, panelists, including MSH's Director of Strategic Communications Barbara Ayotte and two MSH photo fellows, will discuss using the power of photography to increase global health awareness. Ayotte will also describe the MSH Photography Fellows Program, in partnership with SocialDocumentary.net. A photography exhibition and reception will follow this New York event.

 {Photo credit: MSH} (Left to right) Geoffrey Ratemo of Rutgers University; Senator Godliver Omondi, chair of United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK); Dr. Abdi Dabar Maalim of the Transition Authority; Ndung’u Njoroge of the Transition Authority; and Evanson Minjire of Vision 2030 Secretariat at the first "Health for All" technical working group meeting in Kenya.Photo credit: MSH

The Health for All: Campaign for Universal Health Coverage is working to ensure that challenges that hinder access to quality health care in Kenya are addressed. The campaign aims to ensure that governments and stakeholders in health services delivery prioritize strengthening infrastructure, human resource for health, and health care financing to improve service delivery.

The campaign will official launch on April 28, 2014 with the theme, "Health systems strengthening for universal health coverage".

In preparation for this launch, the campaign team has recruited a Technical Working Group to spearhead the campaign. At the first meeting on January 21, 2014, the team identified the health systems strengthening theme and three sub themes for the campaign: strengthening infrastructure, human resource for health, and health care financing.

[Campaign partners at the messaging workshop in Kenya.] {Photo credit: MSH}Campaign partners at the messaging workshop in Kenya.Photo credit: MSH

{Photo credit: Todd Shapera in Rwanda.}Photo credit: Todd Shapera in Rwanda.

Addressing NCDs is critical for global public health, but it will also be good for the economy; for the environment; for the global public good in the broadest sense… If we come together to tackle NCDs, we can do more than heal individuals–we can safeguard our very future.

- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in his remarks to the UN General Assembly in 2011

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and the LIVESTRONG Foundation (LIVESTRONG) are proud to sponsor a Congressional staff study tour to Uganda and Rwanda examining the key elements of the countries' health systems with a particular focus on how the countries are addressing non-communicable diseases (NCDs), also known as chronic diseases.

Strong health systems are the most sustainable way of improving health and saving lives at large scale. For a health system to address the needs of its people it must:

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman, Democratic Republic of the Congo.}Photo credit: Warren Zelman, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

For over four decades, MSH has promoted equal access to healthcare for women and girls in more than 135 countries, as we work toward our vision of "a world where everyone has the opportunity for a healthy life." Health for all is a human right, and we believe strengthening health systems within a gender framework can help achieve this vision.

Gender shapes the ways in which health systems are planned, delivered, and experienced by beneficiaries and providers. To meet the specific health needs of women and girls, and to address gender within the health workforce, gender must be mainstreamed globally within and throughout health systems. What does that mean? Transforming the framework of health systems from being gender neutral (not taking the interests, needs, priorities, and contributions of different genders into account)—to being gender equitable (taking into account the interests, needs, priorities, and contributions of all).

[A community health worker takes the temperature of a feverish baby.} {Photo credit: Zina Jarrah/MSH.}Photo credit: Zina Jarrah/MSH.

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) invites you to attend the following presentations by MSH staff at the Integrated Community Case Management (iCCM) Evidence Review Symposium in Accra, Ghana, hosted by UNICEF and partners March 3-5, 2014. All times are listed in GMT. For those who are unable to attend in person, presentations will be made available online during or after the Symposium.

Costs, Cost Effectiveness and Financing

Session 2: Tuesday, March 4 (11:00-12:30) – Committee Hall 1
Session 4: Tuesday, March 4 (15:15-16:45) – Main Hall

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