Rebuilding in Haiti: Leadership in the Post-Disaster Context

Rebuilding in Haiti: Leadership in the Post-Disaster Context

Just over five months ago, Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake that displaced more than 700,000 people.  Addressing the health needs of such a large population in a post-disaster situation is a complex challenge, one Management Sciences for Health (MSH) is supporting through its many programs including our Leadership, Management and Sustainability Program (LMS).

LMS began working in Haiti in 2008, and one of its primary interventions was a Leadership Development Program (LDP) to help the Ministry of Health and Population establish a standardized, unified, secure commodity management and distribution system.  Launched in early 2009, the LDP brought together 10 teams from the Ministry, LMS and other NGOs working in the commodity security sector to address the major challenges they were facing. These included a lack of understanding and poor usage of management tools and forms in health facilities and commodity warehouses, and a lack of leadership from the Ministry of Health’s central and regional offices in regulating family planning activities.

By working together and learning practical leadership and management skills, these groups were able to achieve measurable results in less than a year – and then came the earthquake.

Program managers from Haiti’s health departments responded proactively after the earthquake, taking a leadership role in the post-disaster response and using the LDP tools like the Challenge Model to assess the situation and determine priority actions. Given the displacement of well over half a million people, ensuring the availability and distribution of family planning commodities was a major challenge.  The commodity security teams quickly adapted to the new, post-earthquake context, and ensured the delivery of condoms and other family planning methods in the relocation camps and other areas.

By the end of last month, the LMS program has distributed more than 8.6 million family planning commodities, including 8.2 million condoms; 240,830 oral contraceptive packs; 203,000 injectable methods; and 940 implants – all this despite the myriad challenges now present in post-disaster Haiti.

At MSH, we have seen that leadership development brings new energy, commitment and effectiveness to health practitioners’ work.  The continued motivation of Haitian health managers to make their systems work – no matter what the odds – are an inspiration to us all.

We invite you to share in this inspiration by watching this video in which LDP participants in Haiti talk about the positive effects of leadership development on their work.

Learn more about MSH helping Haiti rebuild.

Joseph Dwyer is the Director of the Leadership, Management, Sustainability Program.