Health Workers Count in Leadership and Management

On September 22 in New York, I represented Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and the Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project at a Johnson & Johnson (J&J)-sponsored event entitled “Leadership and Management Training: Unlocking the Potential of Health Workers.” J&J Director of Corporate Contributions Michael Bzdak made introductory remarks, and Rutgers University Center for Organizational Development and Leadership Executive Director Brent Ruben facilitated the discussion.

Participants included LMG Project consortium partner Amref Health Africa‘s new Chief Executive Officer Githinji Gitahi and Executive Director Bob Kelty. Githinji discussed our joint work on the African Health Leadership and Management Network (AHLMN) hosted at Amref. He announced that Amref will launch its International University in 2016, and Bob discussed our joint work with midwives.

Other participating institutions included Accenture Development Partnerships (ADP), the Aga Khan University (AKU), Duke University, the General Electric (GE) Foundation, the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Health (GIMPA), the Global Business School Network (GBSN), IntraHealth, the Office of the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Financing the Health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and for MalariaSigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Cape Town (UCT), and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

GE Foundation Director of Global Health Agha Varghese previewed an upcoming announcement on September 25 of the foundation’s $25 million Global Safe Surgery Initiative.

There were three breakout sessions to address the following questions:

  1. In terms of your leadership development efforts/experience, how do you define and measure success? Have you seen any practices in your work/experience?
  2. What is the role of e-learning and digital health in leadership and management training? Have you seen any good examples of blended learning?
  3. What opportunities do you see for collective/collaborative efforts to advocate for, promote, and/or expand leadership and management training as a health systems strengthening intervention?
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I participated in the third breakout session facilitated by Michael Bzdak.

During the session, I discussed my experience with the graduation and transition of countries from development assistance from USAID (I worked as USAID Donor Coordination Advisor and Multilateral Team Leader in 2002-2011); the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (I served as USAID Liaison to the Global Fund for many years and currently serve on the Developed Country NGO Board delegation); and Gavi.

Githinji and I discussed the need to shift leadership, management, and governance (L+M+G) interventions from in-service to pre-service training. I described how MSH and LMG work to push down (i.e., from headquarters to the field) and out (i.e., from us to regional and national partners) the capacity to provide technical support as we have through Amref and our other consortium partner the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and its African Regional Office and Member Associations (MAs).

I noted the underinvestment in L+M+G and warned of the false dichotomy posited by some between L+M+G interventions and service delivery results. There was great interest from other participants in an LMG Project study of the added value of our Leadership Development Program Plus (LDP+) for postpartum family planning service delivery results in Cameroon. I promised to share results with participants when they become available.

Michael Bzdak cited the need for participants to advocate for L+M+G investment including through presentations at international conferences. He highlighted that MSH is one of the few organizations to provide evidence of the efficacy of L+M+G interventions. I noted that the LMG Project would be presenting its work at the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) in Indonesia and the International Conference on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) in Bangladesh both in November 2015.

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Participants were provided copies of a theme issue of the journal World Health & Population entitled “The Global Health Workforce: Striving for Equity.”

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