Representatives from USAID, developing country civil society organizations, international organizations, and implementing partner organizations gathered at Georgetown University this week to discuss the importance of good governance on global health work.
“Good governance is essential for stronger health systems,” MSH CEO Jono Quick remarked at the opening of the second annual Governance for Health (G4H) Roundtable on August 15th. Bob Emrey, chief of the Health Systems Office at USAID’s Global Health Bureau, reiterated Quick’s statement and stressed that, “We need to understand what [governance action] works so we can build upon it.”
The 1.5 day roundtable covered nine topics to further understand the impact of governance including: women’s leadership in health system governance, governing decentralized ministries of health, and use of new technologies for enhanced governance decision making. Stressing the urgency of investing in technologies for health impact, Maeghan Orton, Regional Manager of East Africa for Medic Mobile, sparked a dialogue by telling the attendees, “Mobile phones are the infrastructure we don’t have, the health workers we haven’t trained, and the hospitals that aren’t built yet. Use them.”
An additional theme generating a lively discussion was corruption. “Corruption matters,” LMG Director Jim Rice stated, “It matters because it steals scarce financial resources to post workers in the right place at the right time and it matters because there are medicines that are essential to get out to populations.”
Not just featuring what needs to be done, the G4H Roundtable also featured what has been done that has worked. Dr. Delanyo Dovlo, Rwanda’s World Health Organization Representative, shared a case study in which governance has had a positive impact. “Rwanda’s success has come from strong leadership and ownership, “ he said.
However, finding ways to measure success of countries like Rwanda is allusive as governance is both a hard science and a social science, and good governance does not always equate to good policy. LMG’s Director of Monitoring and Evaluation Reshma Trasi is optimistic though, “Because of the challenges [of measuring governance] there are opportunities,” she said.
And these opportunities should be taken advantage of, Rice said at the close of the roundtable, as “Sharing ideas isn’t enough. We must put those ideas into action.”