#govern4health

{Photo credit: Katy Doyle/MSH, West Africa}Photo credit: Katy Doyle/MSH, West Africa

The following blog post is a web-formatted version of MSH's Global Health Impact newsletter (June 2015 edition), Good Governance Strengthens Health Systems. We welcome your questions and feedback in the comments. Get Global Health Impact in your inbox

Notes

by James A. Rice, PhD

What do we mean by governance? Governance is a structured process used by a group of people—often referred to as a governing body, board, or council—to make decisions about policy, plans, and rules of collective action for an organization or system. For health organizations, the focus of this collective action is strengthening health systems to expand access to quality health services and achieve sustainable gains in health outcomes.

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

While at the World Federation of Public Health Associations meeting in India earlier this year, I met with a district health manager from Nigeria. He asked,

What is the value of having a District Health Council? It takes a lot of time to work with them; so what is the return on that invested time?

My Nigerian colleague is not the only one struggling to support the role of governing bodies. For years, governing bodies -– from district and provincial health councils to executive boards -– have been overlooked as valuable players in strengthening health systems.

“There are many examples of how investments in good governance lead to better health outcomes,” I said, “and many opportunities for supporting the under-supported leaders who govern through district health councils, hospital boards, or other governing bodies.”

We talked about how in the journey to stronger health system performance and greater health outcomes, it is not enough to have good leaders and managers to enable the talents of good health workers.

Strong health systems also need strong trustees serving on the organization’s governing body.

We determined that a good district health council -– or any good governing body –- amplifies the investment of time in at least three ways:

 {Photo credit: MSH}H.E. Dr. Suraya Dalil, Minister of Public Health, AfghanistanPhoto credit: MSH

This post, cross-posted with permission from The Leadership, Managment, and Governance (LMG) project blog on LMGforHealth.org, is part of our Global Health Impact series on the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva, May 18-24, 2014. MSH is co-hosting three side events focusing on the role of universal health coverage (May 20), chronic diseases (May 20), and governance for health (May 21) in the post-2015 framework. This year, six MSH representatives are attending WHA as part of the 60-plus-person Global Health Council (GHC) delegation.

{Photo credit: MSH}Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez of USAID.Photo credit: MSH

This blog post, cross-posted with permission from The Leadership, Managment, and Governance (LMG) project blog on LMGforHealth.org, is part of our Global Health Impact series on the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva, May 18-24, 2014. MSH is co-hosting three side events focusing on the role of universal health coverage (May 20), chronic diseases (May 20), and governance for health (May 21) in the post-2015 framework. This year, six MSH representatives are attending WHA as part of the 60-plus-person Global Health Council (GHC) delegation.

We have been investing substantially in the health sector. But have we been getting optimal benefits for our investments? No!

We could get more benefits if we have better governance.

~ Uganda's Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, at Wednesday's side event at the 67th World Health Assembly

 {Photo: Todd Shapera}Dr. Apolline Uwayitu, country director of MSH Rwanda.Photo: Todd Shapera

Cross-posted from LMGforHealth.org, this blog post post is part of a series leading up to the 67th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland from May 19–24, 2014. In conjunction with WHA, the Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) Project will host a side session with global health leaders titled, “Governance for Health: Priorities for Post-2015 and Beyond.” This series will offer insight on how good governance in the health system can result in stronger health impact as we move beyond the Millennium Development Goals.

Governing bodies of health systems and health institutions around the world are dominated by men. The lack of female leaders within these governance structures creates an unbalanced approach to how best to create meaningful health outcomes and why institutions are not being gender-responsive. Gender-responsive governance in practice, means ensuring that governance decision-makers respond to the different needs of their internal and external clients, based on gender.

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