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Telling the Story of MLI: 2008 – 2012

March 31, 2012

When MLI began over four years ago, those of us leading MLI had very few preconceived notions.   We wanted to keep as open a mind as possible about how MLI could help developing countries follow through on their priorities for the health care of their people. 

Our initial thought going into the job was that we could help build leadership in health ministries.  But we quickly realized that it wasn’t about building leadership--  dynamic leadership was very much present but sometimes swamped beneath the enormous pressures of huge jobs with little resources.   MLI looked for ways to support ministry leaders’ efforts and to better position and promote their voices and their priorities to national and global audiences.  And we gained an appreciation for the value of senior ministry leaders supporting, learning, and sharing with each other. 

Early in the life of MLI, we learned the key to MLI's future success -- we needed to build trust.

Gradually, month by month, trip by trip, the scores of health leaders in our five country ministries – Ethiopia, Mali, Nepal, Senegal, and Sierra Leone – realized we were there to help. While we worked to improve policies and procedures in the areas of aid effectiveness, health financing, reproductive health and health systems strengthening, from the start, we simply have tried to support senior ministry teams move forward on the priorities that they had set for their countries.

From the beginning, this program was an opportunity to test out some new ways of thinking about effective global development and to define new approaches.    MLI was an experiment that we knew would not last forever. 

It has been a life-altering privilege to have worked in partnership with these ministry leaders for these past few years. The time has passed in a flash and MLI, officially, is coming to a close today, March 31, 2012.  But the work of MLI will continue through the lessons we have shared and in the principles of country ownership that we have helped to foster.   MLI’s lessons, outlined in The MLI Model for Advancing Country Ownership, will continue to have an impact on country ownership -- a movement that is profoundly altering the nature of development practice and relations between donors and developing countries.

Our work was made possible by our generous funders, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, who gave us the opportunity to challenge some long held assumptions about how development is done.    Much of the story of MLI is documented on this website.  We  hope it can continue to serve as a resource for many of you. 

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