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February 11, 2011

What We're Reading

Waiting for the next post on MLI’s Leading Global Health blog? Here’s what we recommend you check out in the meantime:

Scaling-up the Training of Community Health Workers

How can countries cope with the global shortage of doctors and health workers? The Guardian highlighted the important role of midwives and community health workers in reducing maternal mortality in its article “The WHO calls for sustained investment to increase midwife numbers.”  More then half of women’s deaths during child birth that occur in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the article, are largely due to the shortage of midwives and the lack of emergency obstetric care. Countries that have scaled up community health workers and midwives have seen substantial results in reducing these deaths. The 10,000 paid community health workers in Malawi have been dubbed the country's "most powerful weapon."

Jonathan Hanson offers a multidimensional picture of the training of midwives in Ethiopia in his photo slideshow entitled, “Ethiopian Midwives: A Sustainable Source of Reproductive Health Care.” Hanson depicts the opening of The Hamlin College of Midwifery, a new school of midwifery created to promote a sustainable source of reproductive health care in rural areas of Ethiopia. MLI recently visited a Health Extension Worker Clinic in Ethiopia and saw the positive effects of community health workers first-hand.

Importance of Donor Alignment

Donor aid: how much is spent vs. how it is spent. According to Reuters AlertNet, a new comprehensive study of funding on health projects by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) found that financing for global health quadrupled from $5.6 billion in 1990 to $21.8 billion in 2007, mainly thanks to private donors. The United States is reported as the largest donor, followed by continental Europe, then the United Kingdom.

However, the study noted that the beneficienaries of this aid were not necessarily the areas with the most need. Fiona Campbell, head of policy at medical aid agency Merlin, cited lack of donor alignment, one of MLI’s main policy areas, for the inconsistencies. "In order to provide comprehensive health services in a zone, you need at least some sort of coordination by different donors and some sort of idea of what is a reasonable amount required to provide basic health services," she said.

Phillips also noted that building on existing health systems is fundamental to seeing lasting results from funding, a sentiment that was emphasized by WHO’s Dr. Margaret Chan in January. All five MLI countries recently attended an International Health Partnership (IHP+) meeting on aid efficiency in January at which they stressed the need for increased communication between donors and countries.

Sierra Leone praises President Koroma’s Leadership

  President Koroma

In a recent Sierra Leone newspaper article, the Chief Administrator of the Kenema Council has praised President Koroma’s continuous support for strengthening health systems in the country’s third largest city. Charlie P.J. Kallon stated that the 102 Primary Health Care Units in the district have all been fully supplied with the drugs and logistics needed to keep the free health care initiative running smoothly.  “The government of President Koroma has been very supportive towards these developmental programmes – transfers of cash have been forth-coming on time – the back-up has been very great,” Kallon said.

Not only has health care been built up, but Kallon praised the increased infrastructure of roads and education that have helped Kenema in the last year. Kallon’s support of President Koroma is unique as Kenema is a major stronghold of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), but according to Kallon, “we are being fairly treated.” President Koroma’s strong leadership has garnered him international praise as his reforms have been country-owned and led and have seen substantial results.

A Return to Good Governance

Aid that emphasizes good governance is making a comeback, according to the Center for Global Prosperity. On their Blogal Prosperity, they analyze the renewed attention paid to the concept in the Overseas Development Institute’s briefing paper, “Demanding Good Governance.”

The concept was popular in foreign aid in the 1980s, but in the last decade priority support for governance in aid has lessened. Now the focus on governance within all development projects is resurfacing throughout the field, like the work of Tony Blair’s Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) to outfit African leaders with the capacity to deliver public services. This approach is one that MLI has also been championing over the past couple of years with a Country-Driven Development Approach.


Photo Credits Dominic Chavez

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