12 Stories from 2016: Strong Health Systems Save Lives

12 Stories from 2016: Strong Health Systems Save Lives

Photo Credit: Mark Tuschman

For the fifth year in a row as part of MSH's annual storytelling contest, we invited staff to submit stories on how health systems are saving lives and improving the health of people around the world. MSH staff submitted dozens of stories from 16 projects in 12 countries.

In these 12 winning stories, meet health workers, community leaders, pharmacy managers, and patients working together toward healthier communities. These stories demonstrate the power of effective partnerships to help save lives.

Ethiopia: Changing Systems to Change Lives: Aster's Story

By Tsion Issayas

Aster Amanuel Desalegn lives in Debre Markos, 190 miles from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. She is a 70-year-old mother of four and grandmother of two. Her granddaughters, Emuye, 6, and Blen, 8, live with her. On a trip back from visiting family in Addis Ababa 20 years ago, Desalegn fell ill and went to the nearest health center for help. More>>


Democratic Republic of the Congo: A Door-to-Door Campaign Convinces Residents to be Tested and Treated for TB

By Landry-Serges Malaba

Alain Kelende had been a mason his whole life, but for the past two years, he was exhausted every day and could not stop coughing, making it difficult to work. Kelende, 42, lives with his wife and two children in a peri-urban community of Kinshasa. Like many in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), he resisted going to a clinic. More>>


South Sudan: Saving Baby Mary's Life: Learning to Diagnose TB Early and Accurately

By Abraham Ayuen and Males Emmanuel

At nine months old, Mary Yeno had lived with TB for nearly half of her short life before being accurately diagnosed and treated. Mary's mother, Flora Faida, carried the baby to three different health facilities without success. More>>


Madagascar: Improving Umbilical Cord Care by Setting an Example

By Samy Rakotoniaina

Herilalaina Livarison lives in the commune of Andakatanikely and is one of the nearly 6,700 CHVs supported by the USAID-funded Mikolo project, implemented by MSH. Since the project trained him on preventing child infections, Livarison regularly educates women of childbearing age on his community activities package. More>>


Democratic Republic of the Congo: Broadcasting the Message of Kangaroo Care

By Landry-Serges Malaba and Sarah Ranney

Fallone Ntumba, a radio journalist in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was 24 weeks pregnant when she was admitted to the Dipeta General Referral Hospital with a prematurely ruptured membrane. After three weeks in the hospital, Ntumba gave birth to a daughter. Baby Gracia weighed only three pounds, and Dipeta Hospital's incubator had not worked in three years. More>>


Bangladesh: Reducing Newborn and Child Death Through Public-Private Partnership

By Liza Talukder and Sheikh Asiruddin

Tama, a resident of Parokhali village in the Khulna district of Bangladesh, was devastated when her 15-day-old daughter was diagnosed with pneumonia-related complications and needed treatment, including immediate oxygen support. Following instructions from the local doctor, she and her husband rushed their newborn to Khulna Shishu Hospital, situated eight kilometers from her village. More>>


Uganda: TRACK TB Brings Hope: Angela's Story

By Diana Tumuhairwe

At six months pregnant, Angela Namatovu was excited. The pregnancy was going well, and she could not wait to give birth to her baby boy. Like any careful expectant mother, when she developed a cough, she knew that the right thing to do was seek medical attention. She went to a nearby local clinic in the Simbwe, Wakiso district in central Uganda, not thinking her symptom was anything serious. More>>


South Sudan: Saving the Most Vulnerable from Malaria

By Abraham Ayuen

Six-year-old Yohana Peter clutched a bottle of mango juice as he waited for his medication outside a pharmacy at Al Sabah Children's Hospital in Juba, South Sudan. Seated next to his mother on a metal bench, Yohana looked anxious. More>>


Cote D'Ivoire: Newborns Get Birth Certificates Thanks to Inspired Leadership

By Julienne Ahua

"In 2010, I was shocked to meet a child whose whole future was at risk, just for lack of a birth certificate," said Dr. Fougnique Tuho, head doctor of Kaniasso Health Center in northern Côte d'Ivoire. "Without this piece of paper, a child could not even take the entrance examination for sixth grade." At the time, Tuho thought this was an isolated case. Then he discovered that lack of birth registration has affected many lives in Côte d'Ivoire. More>>


Rwanda: Reducing Patient Waiting Times

By Denise Museminali

When Ruhengeri Hospital in northern Rwanda upgraded from a district to a referral hospital in 2014, it began receiving cases from 15 health centers in its own district and from five hospitals in surrounding districts. In 2015 alone, the hospital experienced close to 6,000 monthly outpatient visits, about 25 percent above previous levels and now among the highest in the entire country. More>>


Namibia: Electronic Dispensing Tool Reduces Wait Time in Public Health Facilities

By Harriet Kagoya and Chipo Chirefu-Toto

George Lukonga, the senior pharmacist assistant at the Katima Mulilo Hospital in the Zambezi region of Namibia, is accustomed to dealing with 200 to 300 patients on antiretroviral therapy every day. The Zambezi region has an HIV prevalence rate of 23.7 percent. More>>


Nigeria: Economically Empowering Households

By Okechukwu Onyezue

Despite decades of progress and efforts made to improve the status of women and children in Nigeria, inequality and poverty persist. In many households in northern Nigeria, women are the caregivers. However, without a steady source of income, they can barely provide for their families. More>>