January 31, 2011

Analysis: Margaret Chan on country ownership

Sarah Lindsay

What’s on the mind of the world’s top global health official?

Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, has set several priorities in her work. But it’s clear from a little-noticed speech earlier this month before the WHO Executive Board that one of her top goals is to speed up the transition to country ownership of health programs.

“Decades of experience tell us that health initiatives survive long enough to deliver sustainable results only when they are nationally owned and aligned with national priorities and capacities,” she told the board.

January 27, 2011

Building Capacity in Health Systems—What Works?

Aarthi Rao

Capacity building is undoubtedly a development buzzword.  Many programs contend that they are building the capacity of health systems to deliver improved health outcomes in the long-term, but what does it take to actually build the structure and performance of a health system rather than work around it?  In the MLI experience of supporting ministries of health, it requires patience, mutual trust, flexibility and most importantly, a commitment to local resources.  Recently, I attended a presentation by Fred Rosensweig, the Capacity Building Team Leader for HS2020, to learn about HS2020’s approach to organizational development.  I was struck by the program’s similarities to MLI.

January 21, 2011

MLI's Wisman: Looking back -- and ahead -- at opportunities, challenges

John Donnelly

Rosann Wisman has been director of the Ministerial Leadership Initiative for Global Health (MLI) for nearly three years.  Here are her reflections on what has worked and what have been MLI’s biggest challenges, as well as its goal in the next year. John Donnelly interviewed her on Thursday.

Q: When you look back at 2010, what do you see as highlights?

A:  The things that come to my mind are the visit by Mary Robinson to Sierra Leone and the meeting we just had in Ethiopia – the Learning Collaborative Forum.

Mary Robinson’s visit spotlighted the role of the head of state in Sierra Leone in driving and leading health reform and how critical that leadership is to take something to scale and to ensure equity. What Mary Robinson was able to do was speak peer to peer with President (Ernest Bai) Koroma. Her presence was an opportunity for MLI to share with a wider audience -- development partners, civil society, advocates – how the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the government as a whole is really leading health reform on behalf of its citizens. So often in this work NGOs and development partners end up bypassing the government because it’s too complicated or they are worried about corruption, and here was a case where it was really the government leading and the development partners falling in line behind.

January 20, 2011

MLI Countries working at the “heart of aid efficiency”

Ndack Ly

Along with representatives from all five MLI countries, MLI Country Lead for Senegal, Dr. Ndack Wadjii Ly, recently participated in a workshop on improving aid effectiveness sponsored by the World Health Organization and the World Bank.  Below she shares a brief report of the meeting, including key recommendations that emerged throughout the two days.

Created in 2007, the International Health Partnership (IHP+) is intended to accelerate progress toward the Millennium Development Goals. The effort organizes donors and development partners in support of country-led national health strategies. The 49 signatories include 24 developing countries, 13 donor governments, United Nations agencies and other donor organizations. The IHP+ Global Compact incorporates the principles of the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the 2008 Accra Agenda for Action. Both documents, widely supported by donors and recipient countries, emphasize country ownership of health priorities, alignment of donor support around country objectives and a focus on measureable results.

January 04, 2011

Tony Blair: Building the "Nuts and Bolts" for Governance

Nellie Bristol

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is reflecting much these days on governing, especially in difficult environments. “Government is a race between expectations and capability,” he wrote in a recent essay on aid in Africa. “As a leader, you either reform government fast enough to deliver what people expect of it, or you lose the support to govern. I know from my own experience how demanding this can be.”

Last month, Blair, the patron of the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), delivered a major speech on improving government performance in Africa at a Center for Global Development event in Washington.

“I am arguing that without building effective capacity, without governments capable of delivering practical things and on a path to release from dependency on aid, then aid can only ever be a palliative—vital to many, but not transformative of a nation,” he said.