health systems innovation

 {Photo credit: MSH}A woman and her child consult with an ADDO dispenser in Tanzania.Photo credit: MSH

Cross-posted with permission from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Blog, Impatient Optimists.

Primary health care has many different definitions, but can be defined simply as the first place where people seek care. Within this definition, private sector providers constitute an important source of primary health care in many parts of the world.

Private providers of primary health

Private providers can run the spectrum–from private hospitals, pharmacies, and non-profit clinics, to informal providers such as faith-based healers and drug shops. A 2013 review suggests that informal providers account for as much as two-thirds of health care visits in Bangladesh and Thailand, and a substantial percentage of visits in Nigeria and Kenya as well.[1]

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

This post originally appeared on the Frontline Health Workers Coalition blog.

Ayelew Adinew was working as a pharmacist in a large public hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He looked around and saw that the 100-year old pharmaceutical system was broken.

There was no transparent and accountable system for providing the information needed for effective monitoring and auditing of pharmaceuticals and other commodities. There was not sufficient documentation to track consumption, inventory discrepancies, wastage, product over-stock or under-stock. There were no procedures to ensure the availability of essential medicines. The regulations were outdated and there was no enforcement of the relevant regulations in place to protect the safety of clients, ensure proper utilization of resources, and deter professional malpractice.

 {Photo credit: Rui Pires}An Accredited Drug Store in Uganda. MSH, through the Sustainable Drug Sellers Initiative, is helping scale-up access to medicines in Tanzania, Uganda, and Liberia.Photo credit: Rui Pires

Interested in a career in innovation and international development? You’re in luck, says Ingrid Ahlgren in Devex: “the need for new and improved development ideas isn’t going anywhere, and neither are the positions to facilitate them.”

Ahlgren of Devex shares advice on common innovation roles, what's required to land a position, and more from innovation and global development experts, including MSH President & CEO Jonathan D. Quick and Mac Glovinsky of UNICEF. Innovation, “is a big buzzword right now,” says Glovinsky. He says, donors wanting innovation embedded in key functions of development are a key driver of increased attention.

Innovation in development doesn’t mean only new technology, says Quick:

People tend to talk about product and technology innovation, but that’s only half the story.

Screenshot of Heartfile website

When in 1995 entrepreneur Jeff Bezos launched Amazon.com from his garage in Seattle (USA), fewer than 1 in 200 people worldwide had internet access and online shopping was just a year old. Today, Bezos’ innovative website has made Amazon.com the world’s largest online retailer, with $60 billion in annual sales – $170 million a day. Online shoppers see Amazon.com as their primary interface—this is the technology innovation. Amazon.com and its accompanying vast information technology capabilities can predict what we want. It catalogues our searches and purchases, and gives us suggestions of what we want.

A brilliant example of the power of technology innovation – right? Only half right. What we don’t see is actually more profound: it’s the power of partnering technology innovation and systems innovation. If you thought Amazon’s secret sauce was simply the technology innovation, think again. In fact, it’s the systems innovation that makes Amazon work. 

[Systems model: Amazon.com] {Graphic by MSH}Systems model: Amazon.comGraphic by MSH

Printer Friendly Version
Subscribe to RSS - health systems innovation