Event Detail

Aspen Institute Receives $8.7 Million Grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for Ministerial Leadership Initiative for Global Health

March 20, 2008

Washington, D.C. - A significant new grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will strengthen the leadership capacity of health ministers and their senior staff in select countries, and support renewed efforts to have a positive impact on women's health around the world.

The four-year, $8,714,441 grant to the Aspen Institute will support the Ministerial Leadership Initiative for Global Health (MLI) -- an innovative project of Realizing Rights, the Health Financing Task Force and the Council of Women World Leaders, designed to meet the critical need for political leadership to address major global health challenges. MLI partners will work with select ministers of health and their senior staff to improve the equity and effectiveness of public and aid financing for health. Participating ministerial teams also will become part of a cohort of leaders engaged in peer learning activities, providing a network of mutual support for reform, and a platform for exposure on the international stage.

Mary Robinson, President of Realizing Rights, stressed the importance of political leadership in achieving positive health outcomes: "We have the resources and technology needed to reach the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] for health - what we need now is the political will to employ them. If we are serious about meeting the MDGs, we need to be serious about supporting political will and action. The Ministerial Leadership Initiative is pioneering a demand-driven and practice-based leadership development model to do just that."

This initiative focuses on the critical importance of ministerial knowledge and decision-making skills in building sustainable health systems that provide quality, accessible and affordable healthcare. "Political leadership is critical to ensure that effective health interventions reach women and their families," said Kathy Cahill, Deputy Director of Integrated Health Solutions Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, "The Ministerial Leadership Initiative will provide valuable support to government leaders addressing serious health challenges in their countries."

"In some countries, key health indicators are sliding backward, and vulnerable populations, including women, are suffering the most," said Laura Liswood, Secretary General of the Council of Women World Leaders. "Ministers often act in isolation in their countries; there are few forums available for them to share experiences and learn from one another. MLI is providing this much needed space."

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