Since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2002, significant strides have been made in Afghanistan to rebuild health facilities, deploy health care workers, and establish systems that provide access to basic health care and hospital services. A critical element of the health systems redevelopment and strengthening process has been to strengthen leadership and management capacity at all levels to ensure that there is a strong platform that supports health service delivery. Since 2002, Management Sciences for Health (MSH), with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has partnered with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) to support the development of a strategy to build the leadership capacity of MOPH staff. The strategy includes the roll out of the Leadership Development Program (LDP) for health care workers and managers across the country. MSH projects, with USAID funding, have also worked over the past decade to institutionalize capacity building of health leaders and managers by supporting the establishment of the Management and Leadership Development Department within the MOPH, which has in recent years strengthened the governance skills of decision-makers within the ministry and on health committees at the national, provincial, district, and community levels.
The result has been the creation of an emerging group of professional leaders and managers throughout the country who are contributing to a stronger health system and positive health outcomes for the people of Afghanistan. These accomplishments, along with MSH’s approach to providing support to Afghanistan’s health leaders during the reconstruction, recovery, and development of the country’s health sector are described in this briefing paper. By outlining in detail how Afghanistan’s health system has been rebuilt over the past decade, we hope this briefing paper may serve as a guide in planning future interventions that further strengthen the country’s health sector institutions, and serve to guide and empower Afghanistan’s health leaders to provide the best services possible to the country’s population.