US Global Health Policy

U.S. Global Health Policy

The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa proved that diseases do not recognize borders.

In today’s interconnected world, an epidemic threat in one country can spread quickly to others. In our struggle to recover from both the Ebola and Zika viruses, the importance of both health security and crosscutting measures to address epidemics is more evident than ever.

Over the past two years, the world has adopted two critical frameworks to improve global health - the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA). A recent article I co-authored for the upcoming issue of the Journal of Public Health Policy (1) highlights the need to identify areas of convergence between the SDGs and the GHSA.

Implementing interventions to achieve both the SDGs and the GHSA will ensure that global health programs are cost-effective and collaborative, and will make us more resilient and prepared for epidemics. Aligning the implementation of the SDGs and the GHSA will also allow countries to address problems that amplify epidemics, like weak health systems, widespread poverty, and environmental destruction.

{Photo credit: Michael Paydos/MSH}Photo credit: Michael Paydos/MSH

This week, Devex and Management Sciences for Health (MSH) are discussing innovations for access to medicines in low- and middle-income countries. Public-private partnerships are key to ensuring innovations help medicines affordably reach the people who need them most.

From communities to global policy: Innovations to access to medicines underway

Devex reporter Andrew Green writes:

In Tanzania in 2002, MSH realized the medicines needed for basic treatment are in the government system, but not available to patients -- either because health facilities ran out of stock or were too far away.

Instead, patients turn to private dispensaries in high numbers. MSH reports that 82 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa seek health care and medicines from retail drug shops -- even though the people staffing them often have little knowledge or training.

In Tanzania, MSH decided to try to change that, conceptualizing a program in 2002 to set government standards for the accredited drug dispensing outlets, or ADDOs, and upping the knowledge of the people running them. ...

{Photo credit: MSH staff, South Africa}Photo credit: MSH staff, South Africa

This post, first published on The Huffington Post, is part 5 in the MSH series on improving the health of the poorest and most vulnerable women, children, and communities by prioritizing prevention and preparing health systems for epidemics. Join the conversation online with hashtag .

Struck with a prolonged and worsening illness, Faith, a 37-year-old Nairobi woman raising her two children, sought help from local clinics. She came away each time with no diagnosis and occasionally an absurdly useless packet of antihistamines. Finally, a friend urged her to get an HIV test. When it came back positive, Faith wanted to kill herself, and got hold of a poison.

All epidemics arise from weak health systems, like the one that failed to serve Faith. Where people are poor and health systems are under-resourced, diseases like AIDS, Yellow Fever, Ebola, TB, Zika, Malaria, steadily march the afflicted to an early grave, decimating families, communities and economies along the way.

{Photo: MSH staff/Tanzania}Photo: MSH staff/Tanzania

Invest in teenage girls. Change the world.

Sylvia, age 16, knew little about HIV & AIDS or reproductive health when she started primary school. Now, she says: “I am not scared by the pressure from boys and other girls to engage in early sex, I know my rights and am determined to fulfill my vision of completing my education.” Sylvia is one of 485 girls in 6 eastern Ugandan schools who received integrated sexual and reproductive health and HIV information.

Today, July 11, we commemorate World Population Day 2016 and the midpoint toward reaching the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) goal to ensure the right of 120 million additional women and girls to access contraception. More than half of the 7 billion people on earth are under the age of 30. Most of the FP2020 focus countries are in the very regions of the world where we find (a) the highest population of youth and (b) more marginalized and disenfranchised young people. In many of the world's poorest countries, people aged 15 to 29 will continue to comprise about half of the population for the next four decades.

 {Photo credit: MSH staff}Irene Koek of USAID’s Global Health Bureau gives closing remarks at the health security side event in Geneva.Photo credit: MSH staff

This is the second in a new series on improving the health of the poorest and most vulnerable women, girls, families, and communities by prioritizing prevention and preparing health systems for epidemics (read Part 1). Join the conversation online with hashtag .

World Health Assembly and Beyond: Advancing the Global Health Security Agenda

Outbreaks are inevitable. Epidemics are preventable.

Last month, the No More Epidemics campaign convened a high-level, multi-sectoral panel on the Global Health Security Agenda during the 69th World Health Assembly (WHA69) in Geneva, Switzerland.

 {Photo credit: Rebecca Weaver/MSH} bit.ly/msh_May2016Photo credit: Rebecca Weaver/MSH

MSH is a worldwide leader in strengthening health care financing systems toward universal health coverage (UHC). Stronger systems. Stronger women and children.

MSH has made tremendous impact on health care financing and UHC in the last two decades.

Performance-based financing

In 1999, MSH pioneered performance-based financing in Haiti, and has continued to adapt and improve upon it since. We contributed to and supported Rwanda to design, implement, and achieve UHC through community-based health insurance and performance-based financing; drastically reduce maternal and child mortality; and meet all of its health Millennium Development Goals.

In Democratic Republic of the Congo, we contributed to drastic reductions in child mortality and some of the greatest results-based financing outcomes in two decades.

Altogether, we've designed and/or implemented performance-based financing interventions in 14 countries across 3 continents (sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and South-East Asia).

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

This post appears in its entirety on HuffPost Impact.

Pandemics are back on the agenda for the 2016 G7 Summit, which convenes this week in Ise-Shima, Japan. The Group of Seven is expected to further its commitments to global health security.

Look what has happened in less than one year since the G7 last met (June 2015), just after the Ebola crisis peaked at over 26,300 cases, 10,900 deaths.

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

Are you interested in health systems strengthening for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), epidemics prevention, and global health security? Join MSH at these events during the 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva. Can't join us in person? Join the conversation online with hashtag . On Twitter, follow , , , and .

 {Photo credit: Associated Press/Aurelie Marrier d’Unienvil}Women celebrate as their country is declared Ebola free in the city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015.Photo credit: Associated Press/Aurelie Marrier d’Unienvil

When 18-year-old Ianka Barbosa was 7 months pregnant, an ultrasound showed the baby had an abnormally small head, a dreaded sign of microcephaly due to Zika infection.  Upon hearing the news, Ianka’s husband fled. In her poor neighborhood of Campina Grande, Brazil, Ianka soon became a young mother alone.

As Ianka’s baby Sophia grows, she may never walk, or talk. She could develop seizures before she reaches six months.  By the end of the year there may be a staggering 3,000 Sophias in Brazil – mostly in the poorest places.

Epidemics erase the gains women have achieved.

The world has suffered a series of “Zikas”—virtually unknown diseases that seemed to come from nowhere and explode with devastating consequences for families and entire countries – before Zika, Ebola, SARS, AIDS, and others.

Epidemics don’t just leave behind a death toll.  They can demolish the gains women have made in maternal, newborn, child, adolescent, and reproductive health—gains that have been propelled by women’s rights and empowerment. 

 {Photo credit: Rebecca Weaver/MSH}A community health worker in Democratic Republic of the Congo.Photo credit: Rebecca Weaver/MSH

This Global Health Impact issue highlights community health and community health workers, and presents a glimpse of MSH's work at the community level, in partnership with national ministries of health, civil society organizations, the private sector, and more.

The community is the center of the health system in developing countries.

Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, community health workers, often volunteers, represent the foundation of the health system, addressing priority health areas ranging from maternal and newborn health to family planning and infection prevention. The community health worker (known by different names in different countries) is the fundamental frontline promoter, provider of services and medicines (through integrated community case management), and the one who refers and links beneficiaries with more complex health needs to facilities. Not only do community health workers extend access to health services for the underserved and those living in hard-to-reach or conflict-ridden areas, they help countries accelerate certain health outcomes and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and related targets for universal health coverage.

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