Dr. Héctor Castro visits with workshop participants in Thailand on strategic pricing of medical products in 2019. Photo credit: UNDP-ADP.

MSH applauds the appointment of Dr. Héctor Castro as the Latin America Policy Forum Chair for Health Technology Assessment international (HTAi), a global nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering health technology assessments. Dr. Castro is MSH’s Global Lead of Health Financing, Technologies, Data, and Impact and has also served as a Board Director with HTAi from 2018 to 2020. With over 20 years of professional experience, Dr.

Arlington, VA—Management Sciences for Health (MSH) congratulates Dr. Amelia Flores and Dr. Edwin Montufar on their appointments as Guatemala’s Minister of Health and Vice-Minister for Primary Care, respectively. Both doctors are former MSH staff members. Their appointments come at a crucial time for the country, which is battling a spike in COVID-19 cases.

{Photo credit: Mark Tuschman}Photo credit: Mark Tuschman

Swift and effective action to address the COVID-19 pandemic has required countries to engage in an all hands on deck approach. We recently asked our colleagues on the frontlines in Malawi and Kenya, Dr. Ann Phoya and Dr. Ndinda Kusu, to share how their teams are working with all sectors of society to scale up preparedness and response measures, strengthen capacities and systems to meet the challenge of COVID-19, and help maintain uninterrupted essential health services.

{A medicines management supervisor visits pharmacy staff in Uganda. Photo credit: MSH staff}A medicines management supervisor visits pharmacy staff in Uganda. Photo credit: MSH staff

Pandemics challenge the efficacy and resiliency of many systems, including the pharmaceutical system—how medicines and other medical products are managed in health systems. That’s particularly true in low- and middle-income countries, which already face significant challenges in securing sustainable access to and appropriate use of quality-assured affordable medical products.

As governments, researchers, and health care workers work to develop and deliver medical products to adequately prevent, test for, and treat COVID-19, countries will benefit from a response that strengthens the pharmaceutical system to ensure that any medical product deployed in the pandemic protects and promotes public health as opposed to causing harm. 

Key areas country governments and development partners should focus on include:

Family home outside of Pucallpa, Peru. Photo Credit: Leslie Alsheimer

Three-quarters of all emerging diseases are zoonotic, and yet most countries do not have a comprehensive animal health surveillance network. In an opinion article for The Hill, “Can Veterinarians Save Us from the Next Pandemic?,” MSH’s Senior External Affairs Officer, Ashley Arabasadi, and Dr. Tracey McNamara, a veterinary pathologist who played the catalyst’s role in identifying West Nile Virus, discuss the need to invest in animal disease surveillance to prevent the next pandemic.Read their commentary in The Hill, here.

{A lab scientist at a general hospital in northern Nigeria. Photo Credit: MSH Staff}A lab scientist at a general hospital in northern Nigeria. Photo Credit: MSH Staff

Nwando Mba is the Director of Public Health Laboratory Services at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), a sub-recipient to the Resilient and Sustainable Systems for Health (RSSH) project, funded by the Global Fund and managed by MSH. A medical laboratory scientist by profession, Mba started her career over 30 years ago in Nigeria’s Vaccine Production Laboratory at Yaba, Lagos. Mba discusses Nigeria’s efforts to increase the country’s testing capacity for coronavirus.

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

The USAID MTaPS Program, led by MSH, is on the frontlines supporting USAID’s efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus in high-risk countries. The program’s mandate includes advancing the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and is, therefore, well equipped to respond to global public health emergencies such as the current outbreak.  MTaPS has formed a COVID-19 response team to assist countries in developing a rapid response action plan to manage the outbreak.

 {Photo Credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH}Two women wash their hands outside Nathenje Health Center.Photo Credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH

Story and photos by Rejoice Phiri, Communications Manager, ONSE Health ActivityMalawi’s media is awash with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has changed daily life in the country, as well as worldwide.

{Photo credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH}Mobile teams broadcast information to community members regarding COVID-19 transmission, self-quarantine, and other preventive measures.Photo credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH

On April 2, 2020, Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika confirmed the country's first cases of COVID-19.

{Asther Zabibu, an MDR-TB survivor sits outside the TB treatment centre at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Uganda. where she now provides psycho-social support to other patients and counsels them on adherence. Photo Credit: Sarah Lagot}Asther Zabibu, an MDR-TB survivor sits outside the TB treatment centre at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Uganda. where she now provides psycho-social support to other patients and counsels them on adherence. Photo Credit: Sarah Lagot

For some groups of particularly vulnerable people - the elderly, disabled, those suffering from physical and mental ill-health or those at risk of violence and abuse - the restrictive measures have a significant and negative effect. These people’s health and wellbeing, in all senses, are being corroded. In some cases, people are in extremely threatening and deadly situations.

So who is making these decisions on isolation and lockdowns? How do their judgments take into consideration the wider impact on the population and the secondary effects of these restrictions, especially on vulnerable people? We, a group of colleagues working on universal health coverage, decided to do a rapid analysis of 24 national COVID-19 Taskforces to identify their composition and investigate their decision-making processes. What we found out was shocking.

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