Good Governance Saves Lives

Jim Rice

Former LMG Project Director

A 35 year-old farmer in Sierra Leone died last week from Ebola. He died because the district health system was slow to encourage community health workers to routinely go into his village to help disinfect the houses. He died because the provincial health manager failed to have enough chlorine to use for disinfecting the beds and rooms of 20 villages in the districts of the province.

The farmer left a 30 year-old wife and four children. He did not die because of bad medicine. He died because of poor management.

Health systems need new attitudes and new planning processes to anticipate and improve the ways in which they protect, promote, and restore health. We need to explore new ways to innovate.

The Mayo Clinic's Center of Innovation finds that innovation happens faster and smarter by adopting the disciplined approach of Design Thinking and working with experts from a variety of professions: nurses, midwives, surgeons, architects, fashion designers, landscape designers, computer programmers, policy analysts, and artists.

If you could engage creative, out-of-the-box design experts to help reshape new decision-making processes for these governing bodies, what types of designers would you talk to?

We think such bold thinking can help us explore fresh ways to strengthen governance work in the countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Conversations at the Transform2014 Event in Rochester, Minnesota, provide a fascinating new set of lenses through which we can discover effective ways to engage stakeholders in governing community-focused services that protect, promote, and restore health for low income people and communities.

Over 650 innovators gathered this year to journey outside conventional wisdom to re-design processes for everything from maternal health care, to immunizations, to chronic diseases, to Ebola in Nigeria.

One of the presenters was our Nigerian innovator friend, Dr. Egbe Osifo-Dawodu, founding partner at the Anadach Group a global health care strategy firm bringing innovative advice and services to clients and partners in the public and private sectors who are interested in transforming health care systems.

She gave a provocative TED-style talk on the power of Nigerian Health leaders in Lagos State Nigeria to harness social media, strong political leadership, and basic public health practices to avoid the threat of Ebola within the population of 15 million people. They are governing health by engaging new ideas and people to challenge the status quo.

Let’s try to explore how we can invite this type of thinking into our work to streamline and enhance governance practices in the health sectors of Africa.

Sometimes the most interesting ideas come when we have conversations with unusual people and look at our challenges through their eyes and experiences! How would you want to improve the governance of your district health council, your family planning program, a public hospital or HIV-AIDS lab? Tell us in the comments.