Management Sciences for Health to Help Build a Stronger and Increasingly Self-reliant Health System in Afghanistan Through New USAID-funded Program

Arlington, VA—Management Sciences for Health (MSH) announced today that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded it a five-year program to strengthen Afghanistan’s health system, with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes—particularly for women of childbearing age and preschool children—in rural and peri-urban parts of the country. MSH will lead the work alongside a consortium of local and international partners.

The USAID Assistance for Families and Indigent Afghans to Thrive (AFIAT) program will focus on improving the quality of primary and secondary health and nutrition services in targeted rural areas; increasing access to high-impact and evidence-based health and nutrition services; enhancing adoption of optimal health and nutrition behaviors by communities and households; and strengthening the government of Afghanistan’s commitment and capacity to plan, finance, and manage health system in both the public and private sectors.

“Success in our work stems from two thingswhat we contribute and, more importantly, what people running their own health programs in their own country build themselves,” said MSH’s founder, Dr. Ron O’Connor. “That’s what MSH is all about, and I’m thrilled to see USAID’s continued commitment to Afghanistan, a country that MSH has had the privilege to support for so many years.”

MSH has worked with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health for nearly half a century, starting in 1973 and resuming in 2002, when MSH returned after the fall of the Taliban to help rebuild a working health system and reinstate basic health service delivery, including a national community health program. In the years since, MSH has supported the Afghan government in implementing essential service and hospital packages, improving access to and quality of TB services, building networks of trained midwives and community health workers, strengthening national pharmaceutical systems, improving the private-health-sector environment, and using health data for strategic planning and decision making.

“Our long-term commitment has contributed in important ways to Afghanistan’s remarkable progress in reducing maternal and child mortality, even in the midst of ongoing conflict and fragility,” said Marian W. Wentworth, MSH’s President and CEO. “At this pivotal moment in Afghanistan’s history, we’re delighted that USAID has selected MSH to lead the National Health Technical Assistance Program. We will work diligently to ensure that Afghanistan’s health achievements are sustained and advanced.”

To provide collaborative, customized, and flexible technical assistance that empowers Afghan counterparts to develop and implement their own solutions, MSH’s diverse consortium includes many local partners. Core partner Emerging Leaders Consulting Services (ELCS), an Afghan firm, will bring local expertise in research, governance, public health, and health system strengthening. Local grantees include the Afghan Social Marketing Organization Association, which will help to bridge the public and private sectors through social marketing of health products, and the Afghan Midwives Association to support the professionalization of midwifery.

Among MSH’s core global partners, Overseas Strategic Consulting (OSC) will work to increase healthy practices and positive social norms; Internews will promote transparency and accountability via targeted journalism and media engagement; and UMass-Amherst will pilot an innovative accelerated literacy program for women, in collaboration with a local learning institution. Global innovation partners include PharmAccess and the American Colleges of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG) and of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM).

More information about MSH in Afghanistan is available here.