Health Systems Strengthening

Health Systems Strengthening (HSS)

MSH's Douglas Keene, PharmD, MHS, Vice President, Pharmaceuticals & Health Technologies Group, was among the speakers at a recent event in Basel, Switzerland, hosted by Novartis, with representatives from NGOs, academia, and government discussing how to expand access to health in developing countries, including through the newly-launched program, Novartis Access.

MSH is partnering on Novartis Access to help empower governments of low- and lower-middle-income countries to provide access to health for chronic diseases patients who need it most. Ensuring affordable and equitable access to medicines is critical to achieving health for all -- and central to MSH's mission and health-systems strengthening approach.

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

December 12 marks the second annual global Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day, and what a year it has been.

Through legal reform and new programs, many countries — like Burkina Faso and Iran — have made important progress on the path to UHC. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) announced in September reinforced the world's commitment to UHC; the third SDG calls for "good health and well-being" and includes a target of achieving universal health coverage.

Now that goals and targets have been set, indicators to track progress are being agreed upon, and we must focus on the implementation, monitoring and accountability of these goals. Accountability — encompassing the interconnected functions of monitoring, review, and remedial action — is imperative to guiding implementation and accelerating progress across the SDGs.

 USAID's ASH Project, led by MSH, brings together global and African regional partners for a new video on addressing childhood TB.

Tuberculosis (TB) is now the leading infectious cause of death worldwide -- ahead of HIV. While major advances in the diagnosis and treatment of TB have been made since 1990, children suffering from this disease have remained neglected and vulnerable. An estimated 1 million children become ill with TB each year, and at least 200 children die each day from TB around the world.

TB is curable and preventable, but we must recognize and treat it with the least possible delay. For children experiencing TB symptoms, the primary point of health care, often community-level facilities, is an important opportunity to identify and begin treatment. Symptoms such as a persistent cough, loss of appetite and high fevers must be recognized as possible signs of TB (not just of pneumonia, malaria, malnutrition, and other common illnesses among children), and health workers must be empowered to recognize and take appropriate action. Ensuring that children can access treatment close to home is a critical step towards eliminating preventable deaths from TB. 

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

This blog post is a web-formatted version of the Global Health Impact newsletter: Stronger Health Systems Stop TB and Save Lives (December 2015). (View or share the email version here.) We welcome your feedback and questions in the comments or email us. On social media, use hashtag and tag .  Subscribe

{Photo credit: MSH}Photo credit: MSH

This year, the theme of International Day of Persons with Disabilities is Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities. Far too often, people with disabilities face barriers to inclusion, and are not able to access transportation, employment, education, and other aspects of society.

In a world with a considerable unmet need for appropriate wheelchairs, enormous access challenges for those who do have a wheelchair, a glut of well-intentioned donations of inappropriate wheelchairs languishing in backrooms and landfills, where do you begin to help people who need wheelchairs? Over the last seven years, the World Health Organization (WHO)—with generous support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID)—has established guidelines for appropriate wheelchair provision, developed curricula for wheelchair professionals, and brought together a cadre of passionate supporters for appropriate wheelchair service provision in low resource settings. Training materials are now available, some in many languages including French, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Romanian, Khmer, Thai, and Chinese.

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

This week, at the 46th Union World Conference on Lung Health (hashtag ), the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded and Management Sciences for Health (MSH)-led, Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program is launching a new tool to improve how the safety and effectiveness of medicines is monitored in low- and middle-income countries.

All medicines undergo rigorous clinical testing prior to being made publicly available. Continuing to monitor the safety and effectiveness of medicines in real world settings, also referred to as pharmacovigilance, is critically important to ensure that medicines can be used over a prolonged period of time, in conjunction with other medicines, among new patient populations, and in patients with multiple illnesses. 

Low- and middle-income countries, however, often lack the resources, capacity, and systems required to effectively implement pharmacovigilance activities. They often rely heavily on passive reporting methods which can underestimate potential medicines use issues.

 {Photo credit: Todd Shapera}Antibiotics on the shelves of a pharmacy in Rwanda.Photo credit: Todd Shapera

Picture a scenario where infections become totally untreatable because none of the available antimicrobial agents work. This is not imaginary, but is likely to happen very soon if we don’t act urgently, intensely, and consistently to tackle the rising tide of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

This week, the global health and development community is commemorating the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week. Spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise global awareness on the magnitude, reach, and severity of antibiotic resistance; the event comes at a time when resistance to many antimicrobials, not just antibiotics, has now escalated to pandemic proportions and is a serious global health risk that requires urgent attention. In fact, the WHO has labeled AMR one of the biggest global public health threats.

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

Despite improvements in child survival in recent decades, children in low- and middle-income countries still suffer from illnesses virtually nonexistent in the industrial world.

Pneumonia is the deadliest of these, responsible for the death of 900,000 children under five worldwide in 2013—more than any other infectious disease.

And more children are killed by pneumonia in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) than in any other country except for India and Nigeria. Every year, approximately 148,000 children under five die of pneumonia, accounting for 15 percent of child deaths in the country.

No More Epidemics Campaign launching November 12, 2015.

Join us online for the global launch of the No More Epidemics campaign, November 12, 2015, 11:00 am - 1:30 pm SAST (4:00 am – 6:30 am ET) from the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Visit NoMoreEpidemics.org to watch the Live Stream

Follow on Twitter at .

No More Epidemics® is an international campaign to prevent future epidemics of emerging infectious disease. No single player can solve this problem alone. The campaign addresses this urgent challenge by bringing together nongovernmental organizations, top experts in health systems and humanitarian relief, community organizations, academic institutions, epidemiologists, scientists, and the most innovative companies and philanthropies in collaboration with national governments and international agencies, to influence governments and multilateral institutions to increase their epidemic prevention and preparedness capabilities.

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