An Afghan nurse washes her hands before taking care of patients in Wazir Akbar Khan hospital, Kabul Afghanistan. Photo Credit: Jawad Jalali

Originally published by Scientific American

“Rise of the superbugs.” “Global crisis.” “Nightmare bacteria.” “Deadly fungus.”

The media has caught on to the dire threat that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) presents, and it has certainly captured the urgency of the situation.

Global health professionals know this crisis has been years in the making and have been acting accordingly. We know, however, that we cannot contain the spread of AMR without strengthening health systems in low- and middle-income countries, which tend to have weaker surveillance systems for drug use and infectious disease management. Our efforts would be futile. It’s time to take stock of where we are and figure out our focus going forward; we have no time to lose.

The global health organization I work for, Management Sciences for Health (MSH), has been strengthening health systems in dozens of countries for almost 50 years, alongside governments, donors, global organizations like the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) Consortium and the World Health Organization (WHO) and other nonprofits. Based on results to date, here are four lessons we have learned:

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

Meet Daniel Gemechu, MSH Regional Director for the USAID-funded Challenge TB Project in Ethiopia. MSH has worked in Ethiopia since 2011 to improve the quality of TB care and prevention services. Over the past five years, treatment success rates rose above 90%, with 75% of those suffering from multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) now able to beat the disease after completing their treatment regimens. We asked Dr. Gemechu to reflect on his experience working with MSH and what remains to be done to eliminate the disease in Ethiopia.

[Dr. Gemechu cross-checks doses taken and doses remaining on TB treatment patient kits at a health center in Oromia region to verify whether treatment is being delivered according to national guidelines.]Dr. Gemechu cross-checks doses taken and doses remaining on TB treatment patient kits at a health center in Oromia region to verify whether treatment is being delivered according to national guidelines.What drives you to fight TB in your home country? 

A cholera patient recovers at a treatment center in Lilongwe District, Malawi. Photo Credit: Erik Schouten/MSH

This story was originally published by Global Health Now

It was January of 1925, and Nome’s children were dying. Diphtheria had struck the Alaskan town, but the curative serum the local doctor needed was in Nenana, nearly 700 miles away.

Sub-zero temperatures meant that shipping the serum by air was not an option, so the governor turned to sled dog teams, which had delivered mail on that route. Over 5 and 1/2 days, 20 mush teams and their human drivers set up a relay and delivered the lifesaving medicine, a trek known as the “Great Race of Mercy”—now commemorated every year in an event called the Iditarod.

The moral: Get help when you need it, no matter how unorthodox.

We need to employ that strategy in global health development by integrating private sector organizations into our health system solutions more often. They operate where governments cannot and are a rich source of flexibility and innovation. When a country’s government is frozen by conflict, natural disasters, financial crisis, or another crippling event, its health care system is all too likely to follow. Health workers flee or fall victim themselves, and hospitals run out of medicine and go dark. Others must step in to fill the void.

Mother and baby await health services at a health center in Mulanje, Malawi. Photo credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH

This story was originally published by Deliver for Good

Many women are the bedrock of families yet tend to lack access to and control over resources to ensure a diverse and nutritious diet before, during, and after pregnancy. Luckily, gender sensitive nutrition programming that is integrated with MNCH and reproductive health activities can deliver healthier lives for women, their children, and their families.

Violet, a young mother living in Karonga district in central Malawi, delivered her first baby at a community hospital in September. Throughout her pregnancy, she attended six antenatal care (ANC) visits. Her delivery was smooth and without complication, due to her good health and nutrition. Her husband attended her delivery as her guardian.

Community health workers in Madagascar review patient data. Photo Credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH

When community health programs are well-designed, managed, and sufficiently funded, they can yield substantial health and economic benefits. In addition to contributing to a healthier, more productive population, they can reduce the risk of costly epidemics while generating substantial cost savings for families and health systems (1). On the other hand, when poorly designed or managed and insufficiently funded, community health programs can fail to improve poor health outcomes and advance national health priorities.

Recognizing their potential in strengthening primary care and advancing Universal Health Coverage, countries are increasingly formalizing the role of the community health worker within their health systems. In fact, many countries have passed national community health policies to ensure that community health workers (CHWs) are well trained, incentivized, and equipped to provide a basic package of life-saving services within their communities.

Related

Community Health Planning and Costing Tool

 {Photo credit: UHC2030}Nana Taona Kuo, Senior Health Adviser, Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General (Right), and Dr. Akihito Watabe, Health Financing Officer, Health Systems Governance and Financing, World Health Organization.Photo credit: UHC2030

 On September 23, Management Sciences for Health, UHC2030, and the Civil Society Engagement Mechanism (CSEM) held a “Toast to the UHC Movement” on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.Professor Keizo Takemi, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for UHC, opened the reception. Photo credit: UHC2030Ms. Vidhya Ganesh, Deputy Director, Programme Division, UNICEF, gives a toast to the Alma Ata Declaration.

 {Photo credit: Flor Truchi/MSH}Anna Mzeru, Assistant Nursing Officer at Yombo Dispensary in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, shows facility data for HIV-positive patients, including those lost to follow-up and those currently on first- or second-line antiretroviral treatment.Photo credit: Flor Truchi/MSH

By Megan MontgomeryDays are long for Anna Mzeru.A nurse at a health dispensary in the Bagamoyo region of Tanzania, she is one of only two medical staff at a facility that should have nine to be fully staffed. She and the other provider see as many as 120 patients per day, and attend an average of 15 deliveries per month. “We sometimes leave very late, but we can’t leave the patients here. They need to be seen,” she says.The significant shortage of health workers at the clinic is common. Tanzania has a 56% vacancy rate across both public and private health care facilities.

{Photo credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH}Photo credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH

>>Cliquez ici pour lire l'annonce en français Awards totaling nearly $600,000 to improve women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health made to civil society coalitions in nine countries.Management Sciences for Health (MSH), the Global Financing Facility (GFF), and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (PMNCH) are pleased to announce the recipients of the first round of funding from the Small Grants Mechanism to support civil society engagement, alignment, and coordinated action for improved women’s, children’s, and adolescents&rs

 {Photo Credit: Pablo Romo/MSH}Iginia Badillo delivered her child at Huasca Health Center under the care of midwifery interns supported by the FCI program of MSH.Photo Credit: Pablo Romo/MSH

This story was originally published by Global Health NOW

After decades of effort by the global health community and governments, more women are giving birth in health facilities than ever, and maternal and newborn mortality have declined since 1990.

But global and country-level averages hide a tragic, more complex story: Even in countries where 80% of births take place in health facilities or are attended by skilled health workers, maternal mortality often remains high.

Many of these deaths could be prevented. In the 81 countries with the highest maternal and neonatal mortality rates, well-functioning health systems would prevent 520,000 stillbirths, and save the lives of 670,000 babies and 86,000 women by 2020—even at current rates of access to maternal and newborn health services, according to the November 2018 report from The Lancet Global Health Commission for High-Quality Health Systems.

 {Photo Credit: Warren Zelman}A mother holds her newborn at a hospital in Mwene-Ditu, Democratic Republic of the CongoPhoto Credit: Warren Zelman

By Kimberly Whipkey, Advocacy Manager, White Ribbon AllianceThis story was originally published by the White Ribbon AllianceNearly five years into the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) era, maternal mortality rates worldwide are still unacceptably high. Why?It’s not for a lack of technical know-how.

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