Congressional Briefing: How a Health Systems Strengthening Approach to HIV & AIDS Could Improve Maternal & Child Health

On Tuesday, May 25, 2010, Dr. Paul Waibale, the Project Director for the MSH project Prevention and Organizational Systems—AIDS Care and Treatment (ProACT) in Nigeria, presented at a Congressional Briefing, co-sponsored by Congresswoman Gwen Moore, entitled “Is Health Systems Strengthening the Answer to Improving Maternal Health?” The presentation was attended by over 60 people.

Dr. Waibale drew on his experiences in Nigeria with HIV & AIDS, stating that it is strengthening of health and linked systems for health service delivery that is the answer. He stressed that the world already knows the “roadmap”— the interventions necessary—to improve maternal and child health but: “Systems can’t manage themselves without people. And, those people must have the proper management and leadership skills.”

As an example, Dr. Waibale described how MSH trained more than 2,000 healthcare workers in Nigeria on technical knowledge and skills for HIV & AIDS and tuberculosis management through the Pro-Act project and its predecessor AIDS Care and Treatment (ACT). In the process, the healthcare workers learned leadership skills while gaining a sense of ownership and shared vision for improving health outcomes. According to Dr. Waibale, it is by strengthening the capacity of health workers to lead and make changes through such trainings, as well as coaching and mentoring, that that the roadmap to maternal and child health can gain momentum, “People are the wheels that move the system.”

Quick Fact: President Obama’s six-year, $63 billion Global Health Initiative (GHI) focuses on improving health outcomes through strengthened health systems—with a particular focus on improving the health of women, newborns, and children.

According to Dr. Waibale, another important lesson from Nigeria is the importance of facilitating a shared vision at the national level. Dr. Waibale described the development of a President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) country partnership framework by the government of Nigeria and partners funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Through much collaboration and networking, Nigeria and USAID-funded donors now share a joint strategic and operational plan to monitor and account for results in HIV & AIDS. This type of country-wide partnership could also be applied to improving health outcomes for MNCH.

Other speakers included Richard Greene, Director of the Office of Health, Infectious Diseases, and Nutrition, Bureau for Global Health, USAID, and Altrena Mukuria, DrPH, Senior Country Program Specialist for the Infant and Young Child Nutrition (IYCN) Project, PATH. Jeffrey L. Sturchio, PhD, President and CEO, Global Health Council, moderated the discussion.

This was the first event in a new series by MSH in partnership with the Global Health Council and PATH on Innovative Approaches to Improve Maternal and Child Health.Over the course of the next few months, MSH will address current issues and innovative approaches to expanding and improving maternal and child health programming in the developing world. Topics will include tools and technologies, the role of the private sector, adolescent health, and nutrition for mothers and children.

Related Links:

"Innovative Approaches to Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health," P. Waibale (May 25, 2010) (PDF 554KB)

For more information on Pro-Act Nigeria

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