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{Photo Credit: WHO Uganda.}The GHSA High-Level Ministerial Meeting was hosted by the Government of Uganda.Photo Credit: WHO Uganda.

At the 4th Global Health Security High-Level Ministerial Meeting held in Uganda on October 25-27, “Health Security for All: Engaging Communities, Non-governmental Organizations, and the Private Sector,” more than 600 participants including ministers from 41 countries recommitted to and eagerly embraced the agreements made under the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) to accelerate progress toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats.

The GHSA initiative was launched in 2014 to increase the capacity of countries to prevent disease outbreaks from becoming epidemics. The meeting brought together senior leaders across many sectors of government, international organizations, and nongovernmental stakeholders to evaluate the progress made so far and prioritize actions needed to close the gaps that remain. To succeed, nations recognized the urgent need to refine and improve their health systems – so that they are capable of delivering everything it takes to keep people healthy and safe from infectious disease threats.

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) was proud to be among the participants, drawing on more than 45 years of experience supporting countries to build the prevention, rapid detection, and effective response needed to mitigate global health threats.

We’re excited to bring you this month’s edition of Leading Voices, a series that features the incredible talent that makes up MSH.

We’re chatting with Ashley Arabasadi, Campaign Manager of the No More Epidemics campaign and MSH's Global Health Security policy advisor. Ashley is a Pennsylvania native with a passion for global health security. She’s responsible for the strategy, planning, and execution of global health security activities here at MSH. See Ashley speak at the upcoming symposium "Pandemic Risk: A Threat to Global Health Security," November 6, University of Pennsylvania's Perry World House.

 {Photo Credit: Matt Iwanowicz/MSH}The MSH tuberculosis team delegation at a conference retreat.Photo Credit: Matt Iwanowicz/MSH

Management Sciences for Health’s (MSH’s) significant TB work was recognized as some of the best during this year’s 48th Annual World Conference on Lung Health that took place in Guadalajara, Mexico from October 11-14, 2017.

MSH staff from seven countries participated in a variety of symposia, workshops and presentations. MSH also produced three symposia, three workshops, 36 posters, 24 oral presentations, and six technical briefs and technical highlights to share our experience and expertise on a range of topics, including GeneXpert implementation scale-up; TB/HIV/diabetes integration model; QuanTB; Urban DOTS implementation, and more.

 {Photo credit: Jones Dizon/SIAPS.}Training participants try out the Pharmacovigilance Monitoring System (PViMS), a web-based application to help clinicians, regulatory bodies, and implementing partners monitor medicine safety specifically in resource-limited countries.Photo credit: Jones Dizon/SIAPS.

The Philippines has one of the highest TB burdens in the world—and 2.6% of its more than 286,000 new cases in 2015 were of multi-drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). This threatens the progress the country has made in addressing the deadly disease over the past few decades and its goal to make the country TB-free by 2030. Further, MDR-TB cases will likely rise steadily in the Philippines and the world over the next two decades.

There’s a new medicine that can help. Through a partnership with Janssen Therapeutics of Johnson & Johnson that began in 2015, USAID introduced a program to distribute a new medicine called bedaquiline that helps patients with MDR-TB in low-income countries including the Philippines. The USAID-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program, which Management Sciences for Health (MSH) leads, has been helping to roll out bedaquiline in low- and middle-income countries.

But with any new treatment, active pharmacovigilance (PV) is needed to help ensure both patient safety and drug effectiveness. This means being able to monitor patients to identify and evaluate adverse events, such as unexpected or serious side effects, to better understand possible risks and improve treatment protocols.

We’re excited to bring you this month’s edition of Leading Voices, a series that features the incredible talent that makes up MSH.

We’re chatting with Degu Jerene, our project director in Ethiopia. Degu hails from Addis Ababa and has a passion for stopping the spread of infectious diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV. He’s responsible for leading the USAID-funded Challenge TB project in Ethiopia. Degu will be representing MSH this week at the Union World Conference on Lung Health in Guadalajara, Mexico.

What do you think makes MSH different?

Our expertise in health systems makes us unique. Others might be experts in childhood TB, for example, or research, or MDR-TB. But we have a comprehensive approach that looks at the health system as a whole and finds integrated solutions to very complex problems. At the same time, we are equally good or even better in disease specific areas.

What are you most proud of in your work?

Proving that our approach works. Gathering evidence and publishing it in peer-reviewed journals, which I’ve done dozens of times, is a contribution to the field I’m very proud of having made.

Finish this sentence: Health is _______.

A right, not a privilege.

 {Photo credit: Alison Corbacio/MSH}From left: Ugochi Daniels, UNFPA; Chunmei Li, Johnson & Johnson; Antoine Ndiaye, MSH; Lara Zakaria, Syrian American Medical Society; Irene Koek, USAID; Loyce Pace, Global Health Council.Photo credit: Alison Corbacio/MSH

Health systems strengthening was front and center in discussions held in New York on the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. MSH hosted three events spotlighting how strong health systems are critical to resiliency and stability in fragile environments, at the core for global health security and essential for achieving universal health coverage. Here are some highlights from the week. See more on Twitter , and .

 {Photo Credit: Rui Pires}A pregnant woman is given an ultrasound.Photo Credit: Rui Pires

(This post originally appeared on the Next Billion website.)

Why Greater Ultrasound Availability Doesn’t Always Benefit Patients

Advances in health technologies have reshaped the lives of communities, families and individuals, undoubtedly contributing to better health outcomes around the world. For the most vulnerable populations, technology may significantly improve access to preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services and help increase demand for greater quality care. Yet, despite their potential, new technologies can also add new challenges, risking potential gains in quality, safety or cost. Particularly in settings where health systems are weak, the introduction of technological interventions requires thoughtful execution.

 {Photo credit: MSH-Perú staff}Women leaders at a fair in Bolivia share healthy eating tips to pregnant and breastfeeding women.Photo credit: MSH-Perú staff

A partnership with MSH-Perú and White Ribbon Alliance is promoting self-care in Bolivia

On a bright July day in San Ignacio de Moxos, Bolivia, 13 indigenous women leaders gathered in the central plaza around a long table decorated with bowls of beans, rice, plantains, corn, tomatoes, greens, and other foods. As part of an all-day fair to promote the health and nutrition of pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, these indigenous women leaders presented their dishes to over 150 community members and local officials, gathered in the plaza to celebrate the town’s anniversary, and offered ideas on how to cook with locally- grown ingredients provided by the national government’s food subsidy program.

Through the White Ribbon Alliance’s Self-Care Initiative, MSH-Perú is organizing workshops and other outreach activities, to motivate women in 11 indigenous Bolivian communities to actively care for themselves, especially during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, by practicing healthy behaviors, and preparing nutritious meals.

 {Photo credit: Kate Ramsey/MSH}Women learn about their pregnancies during a pregnancy club session in eastern Uganda.Photo credit: Kate Ramsey/MSH

Earlier this year we wrote about our ongoing experience reaching pregnant women in Uganda with a model that we called “pregnancy clubs” – an effort to improve the quality of health services women receive during pregnancy and after delivery by organizing them into groups to discuss their personal experiences and learn important self-care skills, guided by a healthcare provider. The region where we are working is particularly vulnerable because there are very high rates of adolescent pregnancy (30.6%), and younger women often find that services are unable to meet their specific needs – especially for the first pregnancy. It can be a lonely time for younger women, especially if they are in a new household and a new marriage, or if experiencing stigma from pregnancy outside of marriage.

 {Photo credit: Samy Rakotoniaina, MSH}Community health volunteers use a mobile phone app to guide their patient interaction in rural Madagascar.Photo credit: Samy Rakotoniaina, MSH

How community health volunteers are using mobile technology to provide better care in remote areas of Madagascar

In remote villages of Madagascar, people who live miles away from a health center largely depend on community health volunteers for basic health care, such as family planning services, or the diagnosis and treatment of simple childhood infections. These volunteers are identified and elected by the community, and are then trained and supervised by the head of the nearest health center. The country's national Community Health Policy places them at the foundation of the health pyramid, as they are serving the most isolated communities. However, ensuring the quality care provided by these volunteers can be challenging: one study reported that only 49% of health volunteers offer family planning in accordance with national standards, and only 53% of children under the age of five are correctly treated for diarrhea, malaria, and pneumonia by health volunteers.

Being a community health volunteer is a tricky job. Among the many difficulties they already face, they are expected to report their activities by completing paper registers on a daily basis. But these paper tools, which are long and time-consuming, often result in delays and errors in the reporting process.

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