October 31, 2011

Mali’s Dr. Salif Samake: How he became part Nepali

Caroline Pang

Dr. Salif Samake, director of the planning and statistics unit in Mali’s Ministry of Health, is part Nepali. At least that’s what he called himself at a recent MLI meeting, and only half in jest. Through an MLI program, Dr. Samake traveled to Kathmandu last year and attended a class with Nepali health officials to learn how to be a better negotiator.

Peer learning is one of MLI’s most important principles, if a difficult one to put into practice.   Working with five countries – Ethiopia, Mali, Nepal, Senegal, and Sierra Leone – MLI faces diverse challenges. All five countries are focused on different priorities, their health systems are distinctly structured, and they don’t share a common language.

October 13, 2011

Dr. Sadik: MDGs require women to have 'autonomy over their sexual health'

Sarah Lindsay

The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was a ground breaking conference where 179 countries recognized that the empowerment of women was a major step towards alleviating poverty and stabilizing population growth. The Programme of Action that resulted from the conference was reflected in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in many areas such as gender equality.  However there was one glaring omission from the main goals of the MDGs: universal access to reproductive health and family planning.

At the Woodrow Wilson Center’s event “Strengthening the Voices of Women Champions for Family Planning and Reproductive Health,” Dr. Nafis Sadik called attention to the fact that the MDGs included universal access to reproductive health as one of the sub-targets of MDG 5: Improving Maternal Health, instead of as a goal itself. The exclusion of universal access to reproductive health as an MDG is a grave oversight, Dr. Sadik, special adviser to the UN Secretary-General and special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia, told the audience because, “Most goals require women gaining autonomy over their sexual health.”

August 12, 2011

What we're reading

Sarah Lindsay

Ministry of Health and Sanitation leads partners in creating biennial work plan

In late July, the WHO country office in Sierra Leone held a consultative meeting with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation as they put together the 2012-2013 biennial work plan. At the session, co-chaired by Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation Mr. Borbor Sawyer and WHO Representative Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu, strong praise was given to the Ministry for its leadership. Without it, Alemu said, “it would have been difficult to implement prioritized programmes.” Alemu’s complimentary remarks reflect what he told MLI’s Leading Global Health blog earlier this year about Sierra Leone’s increased country ownership of national health programs and its improved relationship with donors. “The top leadership of the Ministry is strengthening the relationship with health development partners,” Alemu said.   At the end of July’s meeting, participants were ready to make contributions to the biennial work plan that reflect national priorities and greater ownership of the document.

Emphasizing Community Health Care to Combat TB in Mali

TB remains a prominent health threat in Mali despite the availability of free care for the disease. Dr Faran Sissoko, a lung specialist at the Pape Clinic in Bamako states that "Tuberculosis continues to be an important cause of mortality in Mali.

August 10, 2011

Family planning and health insurance: What the US can learn from Mali

Swetha Manohar

Momentous amendments to the Affordable Care Act were announced last week mandating all health insurance plans to provide women’s preventive services at no additional cost, including FDA approved contraceptive methods.

“The Affordable Care Act helps stop health problems before they start,” said US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need.”

These new regulations are considered groundbreaking in the United States, however similar regulations have been enacted in the developing world, creating an opportunity for the US to learn from the global South.

April 26, 2011

A debate in Mali on ‘free’ health care

Stephanie Weber

At a recent national conference on Free Care Policies organized by the Ministry of Health in Mali, one thing became clear: In the last six years, the Government of Mali has made increasing access to health services, particularly for the poor, a major priority.

The two-day conference, which was co-sponsored by MLI, brought together over 100 policymakers, researchers, and healthcare practitioners from both the central and regional levels of Mali. Presentations featured several studies conducted on Mali’s free care initiatives, including the decisions to provide free Caesarean sections in 2005 and to provide free malaria treatment to children under 5 in 2007.

One study in particular, which was supported by HS20/20 – a USAID funded program which intervenes in the areas of financing, governance, operations, and capacity building to strengthen health systems – evaluated the impact of the removal of user fees for Caesareans. The study results indicated that Caesarean rates were increasing and post-Caesarean and neonatal deaths were declining. Yet, according to the study, not all issues had been worked out: women of lower socio-economic status still had problems accessing the service.