Blog

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

Originally published on LeaderNet

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.

Prize winner Vishal Phanse shares how his company, Piramal Swasthya, uses telemedicine and community outreach programs to make health care more accessible and available to marginalized populations in India. Photo credit: Sarah McKee/MSH

MSH and USAID Co-Host Celebration of Inclusive Health Access Prize Winners

On September 24, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and MSH recognized the five winners of USAID’s Inclusive Health Access Prize: GIC Med, Infiuss, JokkoSanté, mDoc, and the Piramal Swasthya Management and Research Institute. These private-sector organizations have developed and proven innovative solutions to expand access to lifesaving basic health care in low- and middle-income countries while demonstrating a vision for expanding their approach.

“Locally Leading the Way to UHC: USAID’s Inclusive Health Access Prize,” attended by nearly 200 people in person and online, was held in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly’s first-ever High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

 {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.

Pfizer Global Health Fellow, Megan Montgomery, and Peter Mmbago, Human Resources for Health Advisor for TSSP, interview a health care provider in Bagamoyo, Tanzania.

Meet Megan Montgomery, one of two impressive Pfizer Global Health Fellows currently working with MSH in Tanzania. This international corporate volunteer program places Pfizer colleagues in short-term fellowships with international development organizations. Megan is lending her skills and expertise in marketing and business strategy to MSH’s Technical Support Services Project (TSSP) in Tanzania, which provides assistance to the Ministry of Health in key technical areas to help control the HIV epidemic and sustain HIV-related health systems and services. 

How are you supporting the TSSP project in Tanzania?

My main focus while here is partnering with the team to strengthen the health system in Tanzania through human resources for health (HRH) activities, such as the implementation of task-sharing initiatives, recruitment, retention and productivity management, as well as developing communication pieces to share the work being accomplished.  

Can you explain what task sharing for HIV services looks like in this context? 

{A secretary records the weekly collection amounts for a savings and internal lending group in Madagascar. Photo credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH}A secretary records the weekly collection amounts for a savings and internal lending group in Madagascar. Photo credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH

By Amy LiebermanJenny Lei Ravelo

This story was originally published by Devex

The onus to help everyone — including the most marginalized — secure universal health care coverage will likely depend more on individual government spending than on new foreign assistance, experts say.

Funding will be a critical, but not guaranteed, element in the forthcoming universal health coverage agreement governments will sign in September during the opening of the U.N. General Assembly session.

“Aid is not going to help achieve the global health goals. It has to come from domestic spending. But aid is very important for purposes of equity and that the poor do not get left behind.”— Jacob Hughes, senior director of health systems, Management Sciences for Health

Peter Mbago, TSSP Principal Technical Advisor, Human Resources for Health and Megan Montgomery, Pfizer Global Health Fellow interview health care workers at Kaole Dispensary in Bagamoyo District to better understand training needs and provider motivations.

By Megan Montgomery

Tanzania needs more health care workers. Its workforce is only 44%1 of the required staff, per its national human resources for health plan. This shortage is more dire in rural areas, where 80%2 of the country’s population lives, as well as among mid-level health care workers. Hospitals are often filled beyond capacity, as they must also take referrals from less well-equipped facilities. Patients sometimes share beds or sleep on the floor, and health care workers struggle to provide patients with the care they need.

The Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children (MOHCDGEC) has begun a number of initiatives to help ease gaps and improve health services, particularly for the 1.5 million3 people estimated to be living with HIV in Tanzania. One initiative, called task sharing, aims to enable lower level health care providers to perform tasks that would typically be outside their scope of responsibilities. This frees up staff with higher-level skills to focus on more complicated cases and help a greater number of patients receive timely, quality care.

{Photo credit: Julius Kasujja}Photo credit: Julius Kasujja

This op-ed was originally published in The Hill.

Along with the Ebola outbreak that’s already infected more than 1,600 people, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is fighting another battle: An epidemic of fear and mistrust. Community members are afraid to seek treatment, including a promising experimental vaccine.

Pharmacy Assistant Aaron Sendeza wants to rid Malawi of malaria. Thanks to the mentorship program, Aaron works to ensure that all medicines and medical supplies in his health center are available, reliable, and of high quality. Photo credit: Paul Joseph Brown for VillageReachPharmacy Assistant Aaron Sendeza wants to rid Malawi of malaria. Thanks to the mentorship program, Aaron works to ensure that all medicines and medical supplies in his health center are available, reliable, and of high quality. Photo credit: Paul Joseph Brown for VillageReach

By Matthew Ziba

Many health facilities across Malawi don’t have enough trained pharmacy staff to adequately manage stock and dispense medicines. These tasks often fall on health care providers, who already have many other responsibilities, namely caring for patients. In some cases, even a ground laborer or a security guardwho may have no training in pharmacy managementmust step in to help.

In the spirit of the 3,500-year-old Tao (Way) of Leadership, MSH works closely with local institutions and communities to create lasting and sustainable changes; changes that improve the health of people among the world’s poorest and most vulnerable groups.

And as the Tao indicates, sustainability starts with ownership, “The people will say, we have done it ourselves.”

Women in Kakamega County, Kenya are taking charge of their pregnancies, supporting their peers, and learning about healthy practices and self-care from skilled health providers. MSH’s Lea Mimba (“Take care of your pregnancy”) project, funded by UK Aid through the County Innovation Challenge Fund (CICF), tested an innovative group model for antenatal care (ANC) that responds to the needs and perspectives of women and front-line health providers. At six Kenyan health facilities, Lea Mimba provides a forum where pregnant women share experiences, learn birth planning and self-care practices, provide each other with emotional and social support, and receive essential health information from a skilled health provider, who is usually a nurse.

Meet Hortense Kossou, Principal Technical Advisor for the USAID-funded Integrated Health Services Activity (IHSA) in Benin. Hortense previously served as the national malaria coordinator for the Ministry of Health in Benin and today leads IHSA’s malaria-related activities on the ground. In this issue of Leading Voices, she presents the challenges that the country faces in its fight against malaria and the actions being taken to combat it.

Malaria is the leading cause of mortality among children under five and morbidity among adults in Benin. How has the landscape changed since you first began working at the MOH in 1997?

There have been many changes between the 1990s and today. The Ministry of Health has implemented the newest technological innovations: for example, it has gone from providing untreated mosquito nets to providing long-lasting, insecticide-treated nets. Changes were also made to increase access to these products. Nets were first provided only to the most vulnerable groups, such as children under five; nowadays, there is broader coverage that includes all members of the population.

Pages