Country Ownership

 {Photo credit: Rachel Hassinger/MSH.}MSH country representatives and MSH CEO Jonathan D. Quick meet with Congressman Jim McGovern.Photo credit: Rachel Hassinger/MSH.

MSH hosted its first Congressional Education Day with leaders from our largest country offices including Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Haiti, and South Africa on April 10, 2014.

For many, this was their first time meeting with Members of Congress and their staff and they were excited to share how US global health investments are saving lives of women, children and families in their countries. Having physicians, project directors, and advocates share first-hand stories of their work provides a much-needed perspective for congressional leaders to learn the success of health programs in local communities, as well as the challenges.

The MSH country leaders had meetings with 18 congressional offices and had the chance to talk to some Representatives and Senators personally.

While the Country leaders did not lobby for any specific legislation or funding requests, they discussed in detail how US support, both financial and technical, is critical in reducing maternal and newborn deaths; achieving an AIDS-free generation; providing family planning services; and strengthening health systems in fragile states.

Ana Diaz, of MSH Angola, noted that: "these meetings are hard to get and they really force you to think hard about how you are going to grab these people’s attention quickly."

 {Photo credit: Paula Champagne/MSH.}MSH country representatives, Mr. Bada Pharasi (South Africa), Ziyanda Ngoma (South Africa), Ana Diaz (Angola), Dr. Negussu Mekonnen (Ethiopia), and Percy Ramirez (Angola).Photo credit: Paula Champagne/MSH.

Pablos-Méndez Applauds and Encourages MSH Representatives and Partners at DC Country Health Impact Fair

Representatives from 13 MSH countries—Afghanistan, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda—shared stories and materials about the lives saved and health impact of MSH’s work, in partnership with US Agency for International Development (USAID) and others, at the MSH Country Health Impact Fair at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC, last week. Country ownership and health impact were common themes at the fair.

Ariel Pablos-Méndez (MD, MPH), assistant administrator for global health at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), addressed participants and attendees.

 {Photo credit: Paula Champagne/MSH}Ariel Pablos-Méndez (USAID) and Jonathan D. Quick (MSH) spoke at the MSH Country Health Impact Fair on April 9.Photo credit: Paula Champagne/MSH

MSH extends our thanks to Ariel Pablos-Méndez (MD, MPH), assistant administrator for global health at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), for addressing the MSH Country Health Impact Fair participants and attendees on Wednesday, April 9, at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC.

 {Photo: MSH Staff}Participants at a senior leadership training in Rwanda discuss best practices for country ownership.Photo: MSH Staff

This post originally appeared on the LMGforHealth Blog.

In discussions around the importance of country ownership of health-related activities and initiatives, both Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and the Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project are committed to making sure that the role of civil society is taken into consideration and promoted, in line with USAID Forward’s drive to engage and strengthen local capacity.

 {Photo credit: Yvonne Otieno/MSH}Josephine Mbiyu of the USAID-funded LMS project discusses the localization of leadership for strengthening health systems in MSH Kenya projects.Photo credit: Yvonne Otieno/MSH

Effective leaders and institutions are the foundations of strong health institutions.

~ Dr. Daraus Bukenya, MSH country representative of Kenya

The Management Sciences for Health Kenya country office hosted a panel discussion on leadership at the Devex Partnerships Forum held in Nairobi. This was a unique opportunity for the over 120 participants who attended the session to discuss practical examples of how leadership translates to better health outcomes within and beyond the panel session. The right to health, efficiency in delivery of services, leadership training, and informed decision-making emerged as key themes during the panel discussion. Some of the key questions raised during the session included:

 {Photo credit: USAID}Lisa McGregor-Mirghani (right), Local Capacity Team Lead for USAID in Kenya, speaking at the Institutional Strengthening Symposium in Nairobi. Dr. Daraus Bukenya (center) and colleagues also participated on the panel.Photo credit: USAID

This post originally appeared on USAID's IMPACT Blog.

Under its 2010 constitution, Kenya’s major reforms include a devolved government in which civil society organizations (CSOs) have an enhanced contribution to strengthening health and social systems. The reforms are timely, as other donor mandates, such as USAID Forward, also place greater emphasis on country-led, country-driven development assistance, with more direct investment in partner governments and local organizations, and stronger public-private partnerships. To achieve these mandates, local capacity must be developed so that these institutions can play their part.

 {Photo credit: Charles Fred via flickr}HIV poster in Vietnam.Photo credit: Charles Fred via flickr

This post includes portions of the introduction, questions, and answers from the English edition of "Transition Forward, Issue 1, June 2013" (PDF). 

Vietnam has made significant progress in re­cent years responding to the country’s HIV & AIDS epidemic. Under the ongoing leadership of the Government of Vietnam (also known as Viet Nam), the interna­tional community has provided significant technical and financial support to the HIV & AIDS program. As country leadership and ca­pacity to address the HIV epidemic has been strengthened, and as Vietnam’s economy grows stronger, increasing emphasis is being placed on transitioning to a sustained country-led response.

This includes strengthening the health system and civil society, particularly to reach those most at risk.

Annie Likhutu, shown right, receiving volunteer HIV counseling and testing services from Word Alive’s HTC volunteer, Charles Sapala.

Three months ago, Annie Likhutu, a mother of six, came to Migowi Health Center in Phalombe, Malawi to receive voluntary HIV counseling and testing (VCT); now, she is back at the health center and ready to be tested for a second time.“It is very important to know your status, it is no good waiting until you get sick,” she said.

Annie initially learned of the importance of testing through a radio advertisement from Word Alive Ministries International (WAMI), which is aired regularly and encourages listeners to go to health centers for VCT.

Although Annie takes pride in knowing her status and encourages others in her village to do so, her husband refuses to go for testing. This motivates Annie to continue returning to confirm her negative status.

Earlier this summer, the Center for Global Development hosted a guest lecture by the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia Dr.Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus with a panel of experts from Zambia, Mozambique and Uganda and representatives from United States Government (USG) agencies to discuss one of the most challenging concepts to define right now - Country Ownership.

For the last two years, the USG has tried to find a way to partner with developing country governments while they balance their accountability to Congress.  In recent development reform plans like the Global Health Initiative and Feed the Future, there are numerous references to country ownership, country driven, country-led, and country guided but neither actually come out and define the term “country ownership.”

So, what is country ownership? How will we know when we achieve it? It is an end in itself or the best way to ensure long-term sustainability?

At a time when many are looking for examples of lasting local success in international development and sustainable approaches to healthcare for low income populations, PROSALUD, Bolivia’s largest health nongovernmental organization (NGO), embodies this success.  PROSALUD just celebrated its 25th anniversary last week – and MSH was there to help celebrate. For over two decades, PROSALUD has contributed to the unmet health needs of low-income populations in Bolivia, working with the active participation of the communities it serves.

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