Leadership and Management, a Key Ingredient for Improving Maternal Health

Leadership and Management, a Key Ingredient for Improving Maternal Health

Last week at the Women Deliver Conference in Washington, DC, Melinda Gates announced that the Gates Foundation is committing $1.5 Billion in new grant money for maternal health. “Women and children have moved up on the global agenda, and I’m here to tell you that’s where they are going to stay,” said Gates.

In most developing countries, women and girls are the poorest and most vulnerable parts of the population because of entrenched inequalities. MSH believes that health is a human right; equal access is essential to all aspects of health care.

Leadership and management is a key ingredient for improving maternal health – it’s the human element of a health system. Leadership and management is often a missed ingredient. But, effective, simple interventions can save a lot of lives.

The world needs health managers who lead. They combine management skills of planning, monitoring and evaluation, organization and implementing, with focusing on priorities, aligning staff and stakeholders, mobilization of available resources, and inspiriting their teams to commit to results. This leads to intermediate results which are improved work climate, increased management systems, and increased capacity to respond to change.

It is a misconception that medical professionals do not need to learn management skills, in fact people at all levels need leadership and management skills to increase morale, accountability, and commitment among health teams.

After a leadership development program was conducted in rural Aswan Governorate in Egypt, maternal mortality declined from 85 per 100,000 to 35.5 per 100,000 from 2003 to 2007. Infant mortality dropped from 28 per 1,000 to 18 per 1,000 in the same period.

Leadership at all levels is needed to make a change in maternal, neonatal, and child health. Leadership enables others to face challenges and achieve measurable results.

We must close the gap between knowledge and action in public health through leadership and management to get better maternal health results.

Dr. Morsi Mansour is a Leadership Development Specialist. He currently is Principal Program Associate on the Leadership, Management and Sustainability Program.