President Obama: Forward on Development and Global Health

President Obama: Forward on Development and Global Health

Democratic Republic of the Congo {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

Last night, while in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) visiting our programs, I attended a US election-eve gathering of mostly Congolese people in Kinshasa. The DRC is one of those “distant nations” President Obama was referring to in his early morning acceptance speech today, where people are, “risking their lives just for… the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.”

Fragile, conflict-ridden nations, such as the DRC, struggle with leadership and governance. Its people have been victims of horrific violence, stunning gender inequality, and some of the worst health conditions in the world. They deserve better.

The United States reelected President Barack Obama to lead not only our country, but also to lead on addressing global health and other global development challenges such as those faced by the DRC.

Management Sciences for Health (MSH), a global non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives and improving health for the poorest and most vulnerable in the world, has long been a partner with the US government, foundations, and other donors, working in more than 140 countries to build stronger and more sustainable health care systems.

In DRC, MSH is working with the Ministry of Health, USAID, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Overseas Strategic Consulting (OSC), and local partners to expand access to high impact health care services. Health care systems in fragile states are often not up to the task of providing accessible, quality health care. Women and children bear the brunt of these problems.

Simply to have a child in a country like the DRC is a risky proposition for most women. A woman in the DRC faces a one in 30 chance of dying from complications arising from pregnancy or childbirth over her lifetime --- nearly 200 times that of women in Europe or North America. Even if a new mother survives childbirth, poor health and lack of access to high quality prevention and treatment services can have tragic consequences for her child; there is over a one in ten chance that her baby will not live celebrate his or her fifth birthday.

These are depressing statistics. But there are readily available and cost-effective solutions: family planning, maternal and newborn health interventions, malaria prevention and treatment, and strong community health worker programs. Supported by the US government in partnership with numerous host country governments, such interventions have been proven to improve health and save lives, especially in fragile states.

Under President Obama’s leadership, development has become a pillar of foreign policy alongside diplomacy and defense. The Obama Administration has made great strides in its support and leadership on child survival and maternal health, as well as working towards an AIDS-free generation. This work builds on US investments made under previous administrations, both Republican and Democratic.

As a family physician --- who through the work of MSH now has whole countries as “patients” --- I have been gratified to see how richly these investments have paid off. The US government --- in partnership with local government leaders, non-profit organizations like MSH, the private sector, foundations and individuals --- has made remarkable progress in global health over the past twenty years. Since 1990 the global under-five mortality rate has dropped 41 percent --- from 87 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 51 in 2011. Maternal mortality has also seen dramatic improvements. The number of women dying each year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth has almost halved in 20 years, Between 1990 and 2010, the annual number of maternal deaths dropped from more than 543,000 to 287,000.

It’s imperative that these investments in global health continue over the next four years.

To nations such as the DRC, US leadership serves as a model of what can be done cooperatively to find solutions to challenging global health problems. Working together with the private sector, investments in global health by the US government are some of the best investments we can make as a nation. New and emerging diseases do not respect national borders. Countries without a healthy and productive workforce cannot maintain a stable economy or government. Our investments not only save lives, but contribute to national security and economic stability.

Over the next four years, President Obama will have the very important role of leading US participation in the review of the Millennium Development Goals, which end in 2015, and in shaping the next global set of goals and commitments toward poverty elimination and sustainable development. Obama’s landmark Affordable Care Act will also lead the US’s reform toward universal health coverage, joining dozens of nations that have already adopted affordable, appropriate, and accessible health care for their citizens. And over the next few months, Congress will have to make critical decisions on development funding needed to save lives globally.

With a global team of 2300 staff from more than 70 nations, MSH looks forward to even more leadership on global health by President Obama and the Congress in the years ahead.

Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH, is president and chief executive officer of Management Sciences for Health. Dr. Quick has worked in international health since 1978. He is a family physician and public health management specialist.


Boye Kwame
The success of every system like this depends on the kind of inputs that go into it. efficient management of these input in the form of logistic including health commodities will help. so i believe making maximum use of all these inputs. ensure it gets to the targets.
Peter Mugagga
What will move development and global health forward???? it is indeed a million dollar question and my opinion is simple. We (in the developing world) have all it takes to move forward. With all the foregn support we have received many decades, capacity building and expertise gained, there is no other reason not to determine our own destiny, except the inherent selfish accumulation of wealth and being inconsiderate of our own. We can start with a Foundation where each of us contributes $1.00 periodically towards addressing health, hunger, water problems. By actively participation in improving our own lives, we will practice the good governance we have leant over time as we start to demand for accountability. "yes we can" President Obama would say!
Kiiza Edith
We should put our hands together in order to improve on the health of our people countrywide; be it babies, youth, elderly through advocacy, primary health education on mass medias - TV Talk Shows, Radios and Newspapers.
I believe that this time President Obama will continue helping poor African nations to overcome their challenge in achieving the MDGs. I hope with the support from developed countries, MSH with others will contribute its part in alleviating health and related problems of people in countries like DRC and Ethiopia.
Sheng Zhang
Dear Jonathan: I appreciate your leadership on your persistent and effective effort to promotion Global health and your unique action bridge to those developing countries. I am also very happy to celebration of President Obama's contribution on reform of US health care system. We will keeping in coordinate with you on our behalf to promotion of improve of Global Health Quality and with the progress of technology forward. Dr. Sheng Zhang President of International Health Care Co-op Union
Fressia Cerna
Excellent article! I worked for MSH in Honduras in 2009/10 in HIV-Aids prevention and can say YES! It is possible to achieve Global Health if the commitment of all parties involved is strong and steady, and local communities have the opportunity to contribute with their own experience, culture and knowledge over what works for them.
Md. Khalilur Rahman
We, who worked for the USAID-funded projects until very recently, are very happy at the re-election of President Obama for the USA. Why? Becoz we believe the USAID under different human development projects will continue providing their committed cooperation and assistance to promote lasting and sustainable development of world peace. Obama under the president health program, i believe strengthen the continued efforts for developing countries' democratic and good governance schemes. Lets hope for the new 4-year tremendous and glorious leadership to end wars, conflict, confusion instead contributing to peace, trust and development for the countries who really deserve it. CONGRATULATIONS , Mr. President (OBAMA)
What will move development and global health forward -We need a strong and enegetic commited individuals -Goverment to ensure sufficient use of its svsilsble resources -To strenghthern social economic and political partens of the nations
Michael Kanyingi
It is very traumatizing for states which have experienced war and trauma. One very possible thing is that most of them are experiencing unresolved grief due to multiple losses over time. It is very evident that when this happens, it is the older population that carries the burden. African states including DRC and Kenya as examples have not invested in geriatric health capability. As we look at the issues of children and women health, it is paramount to remember that Older people are key to achievement of health for all. Hence more funding and deliberate involvement is needed in the fields of holistic gerontology and geriatrics and more so in Africa.
Dr. Nilufar Kam...
Dear Dr Jonathan Quick President Obama: Forward on Development and Global Health is the just right time decision to save lives.After review of MDG targets acheivements in 2015. My openion is to continue Child health and RMNH Targets and Fund for GHI. Additional emphesis need to be given in FOOD Security and Nutrition, Climate Change, Environment and disaster Risk reduction response. Beside this democratic governance and Human rights. Social services for human developments, Pro-poor urban development and Gender eqquity and women's Advance ment also needed to give attention.
Neil Pakenham-Walsh
"What will move development and global health forward?" 1. Based on progressive realisation of right to health, through universal access to quality health care 2. Focus on empowering citizens and health workers to prevent and manage disease. 3. Understanding and addressing the basic heathcare knowledge needs of citizens and health workers. 4. Taking advantage of increasing connectivity to bring together all stakeholders in virtual communities enabled by simple email discussion software such as Dgroups - 5. Example: Healthcare Information For All by 2015 - more than 10,000 professionals on 5 forums in 3 languages, in collaboration with WHO and others, dedicated to a future where people will no longer be dying for lack of basic healthcare knowledge. Dr Neil Pakenham-Walsh, MBBS Coordinator, HIFA2015 Chair, Dgroups Foundation

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