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August 12, 2011

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   Photo Credit Dominic Chavez

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. According to estimates by the World Health Organization in 2009-2010, the prevalence of this disease in Mali is 142 per 1,000 residents." To fight the spread of TB, more emphasis is being put upon strengthening health systems in rural areas through community care. The stress on community as a main access point for primary health care is not new in Mali where currently community based health insurance, or mutuelles de santé, are being piloted in three regions this summer. Other MLI countries, such as Ethiopia and Nepal, have also improved access to community-level health care through expansion of community health clinics and national community health worker programs. And they have seen success. In Ethiopia, “The number of women dying in childbirth decreased. The number of children immunized increased. And the number of families gaining access to clean water soared,” as a result of community-based health initiatives.  Mali will start its community-based TB care this summer as the 2011/2012 financing was passed in June.


Growing health inequities highlight need for stronger donor coordination

Coordinating aid efforts can help lessen the global health burden on developing countries said Professor Peter Boyle, director of the International Prevention Research Institute in Lyon, France. This is especially important as traditionally ‘western’ diseases are spreading and becoming more prominent in developing countries. “These western diseases – cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease – are increasing in these populations at a rate which is much, much quicker than anyone anticipated, and their health systems at the present time cannot in the majority of cases cope with the current situation, let alone what is going to happen,” Boyle described. While a lot of programs and aid agencies are doing good work in providing resources, coordination of efforts could amplify results in building resilient health systems to cope with the increase of diseases. How can this coordination be effective? “Governments must take a lead,” Boyle stated.  And many governments seem up to this challenge. At an MLI dialogue in June, the five MLI countries – Ethiopia, Mali, Nepal, Senegal, and Sierra Leone – all appealed for donors to follow the Ministry’s lead in strengthening health system’s through country-identified priorities. At the end of the dialogue, Dr. Francis Omaswa, Director of ACHEST and senior advisor to MLI, summed up the countries’ messages: “The message to the partners is: Give us the tools and we are going to finish the job.”