November 01, 2011

Nepal’s Digital Library: ‘This is a big achievement for us’

Nellie Bristol

Creating a searchable digital library for Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population had to start at the very beginning.  For MLI’s knowledge management consultant Sanjaya Singh Thapa, that meant setting up an office with an adequate Internet connection. “Right now, Internet is not as good in the government sector as is available to the public,” he said, “The whole setting up of the office was a challenge.”

The goal of the digital library project was to create a framework for an effective centralized information system accessible to policy makers, donors and the general public. It would promote learning and build national consensus on health sector policy options for scaling up services.

To help the process, MLI facilitated a peer-learning teleconference with the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) of Nigeria. Having already completed the preliminary steps of developing a system to meet the information needs of national, state and local health care leaders, NPHCDA was able to offer advice and lessons learned to Nepal.

August 18, 2011

Ministry applauds systems improvement tool in Nepal

Gabriele Mallapaty

A capacity pyramid presented to Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) and development partners at an MLI supported seminar earlier this year was praised as an important tool for identifying parts of the health system that need improved efficiency . Dr. Baburam Marasini, chief of the Health Sector Reform Unit, said the pyramid would be “very useful” in fostering communications between different parts of the system, which now have difficulty coordinating activities. Matt Gordon, Health & HIV Advisor for the UK Department for International Development (DFID), said the tool was “a very persuasive approach to assessing what capacity problems in an organization might be.” He added that it presents “a really great framework for donors, development partners, government and advisors.”

August 15, 2011

Capacity enhancement tool introduced in Nepal

Nellie Bristol

PHOTO CREDIT DOMINIC CHAVEZHealth systems experts Christopher Potter and Richard Brough have years of experience working in and analyzing organizations around the world. They shared their insights and the systems building tool they developed, the capacity pyramid, with Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population staff and development partners earlier this year. Through a one-day seminar, supported by MLI and attended by more than 50 participants, the capacity pyramid was introduced as a way to help improve the health system’s functional capacity.

While health officials and donors in developing countries often focus on training and provision of equipment as ways to expand and improve services, Potter and Brough argued that other aspects of health systems management are equally or even more important. The basis of a health system, said Potter, who directs the global health module within Cardiff University’s Masters in Public Health program, are the “soft” aspects of capacity development and enhancement including local context, prevalent institutional culture and power dynamics. Understanding issues in those areas will make the entire system more efficient, he explained. Potter urged participants to consider an approach that encompasses the entire organization or thematic area. “In my experience in many countries, people were trained pretty well—they had skills, they had abilities, but the system they were working in often prevented them from using those skills effectively,” he said in an interview.

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.

March 07, 2011

Dialogue with Development Partners: Anne Peniston

Nellie Bristol

MLI is conducting interviews with development partners to get their views on country ownership and leadership in MLI countries. The first entry features Anne Peniston, Director of the USAID Office of Health and Family Planning and Global Health Initiative Field Deputy for Nepal. Peniston has worked in U.S. and international public health for more than 30 years as a clinician, researcher and program manager. She has worked with USAID/Nepal since 1997 when she was recruited as a senior technical advisor.

Do you see greater evidence of country ownership and leadership in Nepal, and if so, in what way?

Given the context of Nepal, from ten years of conflict to a transitional democracy which is still writing its constitution, and with changing leadership in the government, it’s been difficult for the Ministry of Health and Population to be able to take full ownership of development assistance and run with it. But I’ve seen good examples of commitment to good governance in the health sector, even in these unstable times. We have some very hard working and committed public servants at the Ministry of Health and Population at all levels who have embraced the idea of ownership. But I think we have still a way to go before we have what I would say is great evidence of country ownership and leadership.