From the Shelf to Implementation

Greg Olson

Communications Senior Associate

On Tuesday, October 13, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project announced the launch of an online resource section on LeaderNet, hosted by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), during an event at the USAID Bureau for Global Health office in Crystal City, Virginia. The launch event provided an opportunity to highlight the LeaderNet community of practice, to share stories of sustainability, and to introduce four new and upcoming tools that will soon be added to LeaderNet.

LeaderNet online community of practice.

Many of the tools and resources available on LeaderNet are available for use off-the-shelf, since they require little or no support, expertise, or resources for implementation. The tools are accessible to leaders and organizations around the world, lowering some of the typical barriers to capacity-building and scale-up. During Tuesday’s event, two panels shared stories of sustainability that highlighted the accessibility and impact of three specific tools: the Leadership Development Program Plus (LDP+), the LMG for Midwifery Managers Course, and the Human Resource Management (HRM) Rapid Assessment Tool.

The added-value, impact, and versatility of the LDP+ were shared during the event’s first panel, which was moderated by Reena Shukla, the LMG Project’s Agreement Officer’s Representative from USAID’s Office of Population and Reproductive Health, and included stories from Lourdes de la Peza, a Principal Technical Advisor for leadership and management at MSH; Elly Mugumya, the LMG Project Partnership Director for the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF); and Tiffany Myers, a Country Support Team Manager for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF).

The Leadership Development Program Plus

By design, the LDP+ Facilitator’s Guide was organized to be specific and step-by-step to make it easy for facilitators to lead an LDP+ workshop in any context. For example, IPPF’s Africa Region Office trains LDP+ facilitators, and then rolls out trainings to their member associations. In Uganda, clinical staff from IPPF member association Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU) participated in LDP+ trainings. For example, staff at the RHU Kapchorwa branch identified many challenges, but they focused on increasing their monthly client load. After six months, they had successfully surpassed their target by more than 5,000 clients. Similarly, Demeter Namuyobo, a Medical Coordinator for RHU and an LDP+ facilitator, highlighted the value of teamwork for staff at RHU’s Luwero branch.

In Mozambique, EGPAF supports the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) by improving access to HIV clinical services. However, in-country EGPAF teams identified treatment retention as a significant obstacle. Applying the challenge model during the LDP+ helped the teams identify not only the specific challenges they faced, but also to define and prioritize specific actions they could take to increase retention among pregnant women. Before the LDP+ training, the EGPAF teams performed a baseline assessment that showed an average retention rate of approximately 75 percent at three months, and about 54 percent retention at six months; however, Tiffany explained the impact after the teams participated in the LDP+ training, “we recently, in September, did a results presentation of the three month retention rate at the six health facilities, and the retention rate at three months is at 98 percent, on average.”

Leadership, Management, and Governance for Midwifery Managers Course

Similar to these team challenges addressed with the LDP+, the LMG Project and Amref Health Africa saw that although many midwives receive leadership and management training during their clinical studies, many skills gaps persist. The LMG for Midwifery Managers Course aims to address these gaps by helping to improve the integration of effective leadership and management skills into the curricula. After the training, midwives plan and implement quality improvement projects which required Priscilla Ngunju, a midwife with Amref, to stay in contact with the midwives, and to monitor and evaluate their performance data. Priscilla mentioned challenges she faced using email, but explained how using the WhatsApp mobile messaging application proved more effective, “we formed many groups, whereby they (midwives) can ask us any questions. And we have two cohorts for the WhatsApp groups, whereby someone from Tanzania can ask a question from those who are in Malawi.” Moreover, WhatsApp’s accessibility helped the midwives stay engaged after six months and created an engagement network of midwives across borders. “They continue with their projects, so they don’t stop at six months, we’ve found that others have really done very well,” says Priscilla. 

The Human Resources Management Rapid Assessment Tool

In Ethiopia, the HRM Rapid Assessment Tool helped identify significant gaps within fifteen institutions including the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH). After identifying these gaps, the institutions were able to hire more than 1,000 human resources personnel, and create a consolidated HRM training module to integrate into pre-service curricula in order to improve training in the future. Although human resources for health is not a flashy investment, effective HRM is key to health service delivery. For example, how can a client rely on a clinic to provide quality services if that clinic cannot add new health workers to their payroll in a timely manner?

Lora Wentzel, from the LMG Project, explains the Faculty Facilitation Guide. (Photo: MSH Staff)

A Look into the Future

Looking ahead, the resource section on LeaderNet’s value will not be measured by the quantity of tools or resources available. Instead, it will be the ease with which these tools can be independently accessed, implemented, and scaled-up as needed by individuals, teams, and organizations around the world. While the stories of sustainability highlighted the impacts of the independent use of the LDP+, LMG for Midwifery Managers Course, and HRM Rapid Assessment Tool, these next four tools–previewed on Tuesday and coming soon to LeaderNet–are similarly being designed for independent use:

  • Leaders Who Govern, an interactive tool for community health leaders who serve in governing bodies from “village to parliament;”
  • the Faculty Facilitation Guide provides learning materials and exercises to help professors teach leadership and management skills to their medical students;
  • a Coaching and Communications Skills Course designed to help managers improve the soft-skills necessary for effective teams; and
  • the Youth Leadership eCourse, designed in partnership with IPPF, is a dynamic and engaging self-paced course that helps prepare young leaders.

The success stories and tools highlighted during Tuesday’s short event only scratch the surface of the resources and the wealth of knowledge that exist. It is important to recognize that these tools have not only a track record of impact, but also the ability to be implemented and scaled-up independently. In truth, the tagline for LeaderNet’s resource section should read: “Best Practices Live Here.”

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