This blog post is part of a series leading up to the 67th World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland from May 19 – 24, 2014. In conjunction with the WHA, the Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) Project will host a side session with global health leaders titled, “Governance for Health: Priorities for Post-2015 and Beyond.” This series will offer insight on how good governance in the health system can result in stronger health impact as we move beyond the Millennium Development Goals.
On Wednesday, May 21st, the LMG Project gathered a distinguished panel at the Geneva Press Club for a side event to the 67th World Health Assembly. The panel, “Governance for Health: Priorities for Post-2015 and Beyond,” featured panlists:
- H.E. Dr. Suraya Dalil, Minister of Public Health, Afghanistan
- H.E. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, Minister of Health, Republic of Uganda
- Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health, United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
- Dr. Tomohiko Sugishita, Senior Advisor (Health), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
- Dr. Sameen Siddiqi, Director, Division of Health Systems and Services Development, World Health Organization, Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (WHO)
- Prof. Francis Omaswa, Executive Director, African Center for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST)
- Civil Society Respondent: Dr. Christine Sow, Executive Director, Global Health Council (GHC)
- Youth Respondent: Simba Shayanewako, Family Planning Youth Centers, Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Zimbabwe
- Moderator: Dr. Jonathan Quick, President and CEO, Management Sciences for Health
H.E. Dr. Suraya Dalil, Minister of Public Health, Afghanistan Photo: MSH Staff
The discussion was kicked off with remarks from Dr. Dalil’s reflections on the importance of governance in Afghanistan, especially in relation to the recent political turmoil. For her, governance means ownership, commitment, stewardship, and accountability.
She also remarked on the importance of having more women in leadership positions and in order for that to happen, political leadership is a must along with availability of educational opportunities. “In Afghanistan,” Dr. Dalil said, “we have shown that if women are given opportunities, they get results. We need to invest in professional development for women.”
There was a consensus on the panel that in order for the government to perform its functions, the key is to collaborate with a diverse group of stakeholders, including the media, civil society and private sectors. The civil society and youth respondents gave perspective on how their respective interest groups can help hold stakeholders accountable.
Mr. Shayanewako issued a call to governments and civil society partners to truly engage youth as youth must be partners in decision-making process, especially leading to the post-2015 development agenda. “The governments, as well as, NGOs need to engage youth. We need access to information, to come up with solutions. Youth leadership is the key for better governance,” he asserted.
Panelists for the side session with global health leaders titled, “Governance for Health: Priorities for Post-2015 and Beyond.” Photo: MSH Staff
“How can we have more accountability?” posed the moderator, Dr. Jonathan Quick, to the panel and audience. He offered that some suggest one way is by instituting Ministers’ scorecards. While echoing the importance of accountability and partnerships, Dr. Pablos-Méndez was sure to stress that we cannot forget about the evidence and how it will help us quantify the impact of governance on health.
Dr. Rugunda shared his in-country experience that, “governance is the weakest link in the provision of health services in Uganda and other African countries.” He elaborated that they have been investing substantially in the health sector and have not been getting optimal benefits for their investments. In fact, they could get more benefits if better governance was in place.
Recognizing that a way to improve governance is to ensure that Ministers of Health are equipped for the job, Dr. Omaswa described a recent study by ACHEST on what skills have been identified by Ministers of Health in order to be successful, as many of them are new to their roles and do not have the adequate resources and tools.
In order to address this need to build Ministries’ capacities, H.E. Dr. Pinkie Rosemary Manamolela, Lesotho’s Minister of Health, was invited to join the panel for the official launch of the publication, “Strong Ministries for Strong Health Systems: Handbook for Ministers of Health.” The focus of the book, Dr. Omaswa added, “is not to name and shame but to inform and inspire.”
Along with the launch of this book, the LMG Project also launched the beta version of its Govern4Health app, targeted to leaders, managers, and those who govern within health systems. Download it today!