Reflecting on Progress in Ethiopia

As the LMG Project is coming to an end, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to our LMG/Ethiopia Project office to attend their final project event and launch of the culmination of many years of work: the leadership, management, and governance in-service training manual of the Federal Ministry of Health. It was very encouraging to hear directly from our donor and from partners how much they appreciated and valued the work of the project team, and to hear a description of some of the achievements made with the support of the LMG/Ethiopia project team.

Ethiopia was one of the LMG Project’s first mission buy-ins, and the project built on the foundation laid by the prior Leadership, Management, and Sustainability activity in Ethiopia. The advantage of having a long-term investment showed; the project staff had time to forge strong relationships with the partners and work with them over time to gain their trust in the technical inputs and guidance our team provided. This strong collaboration resulted in a number of products and tools to improve human resources for health that are now being used by the local partners with minimal support and guidance.

The Project worked on several main areas, including integrating leadership, management, and governance competencies into the health workforce curricula and ensuring that the instructors had a good grounding in the materials and in adult learning approaches, working with the ministry of health to develop and implement an in-service leadership development program that became a regular component of career advancement within the ministry, and working with health professional associations to recognize these leadership, management, and governance competencies as critical elements of the health workforce.

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Dr. Amanuel Haile, Medical Director of Ayder Referral Hospital in Mekelle, address the audience at the LMG/Ethiopia Project’s end-of-project event on August 1, 2017. (Photo: MSH)

During the morning, we heard a number of testimonials of the impact of the leadership development programs; the regional ministry of health officers talked about the challenges they identified and overcame as part of our work with the ministry to develop an experiential, team-based leadership training program within the ministry. The Harari Regional Health Bureau noted that they used the LMG program to performance and continued to use the challenge model to identify new challenges. Arsi University Teaching Hospital, another Oromia region institution, noted that as part of the program, they took on loss to follow up for antiretroviral therapy and were able to improve this through the implementation of the program and were ranked first in retention in a regional evaluation.

This was also one of the few countries where we successfully engaged with health professional associations to help ensure that leadership, management, and governance competencies were valued in their profession and the gaining of these were a requirement for advancement. We heard from the public health association about the tools and resources and support the LMG Project offered since the beginning that really helped strengthen their association.

The culmination of the event was the launch of the new materials that have been incorporated into the health professional training programs in 8 universities across the country. The approach taken, to work closely with and follow the lead of the ministries of health and education, to develop these ensured that they responded to local needs and had sufficient buy-in to make them successful. We heard from a few representatives from the universities about the progress made, and watched a short video that highlighted the process and some of the achievements, as well as the way forward.

Following that event, I spent the morning with the LMG/Ethiopia Project team, learning about the background of all the staff, and really seeing their enthusiasm and excitement about continuing the LMG program since they had seen the return on their efforts. I am glad I was able to meet with the team, although it was unfortunate that it was only at the end of the project. I was very impressed with the work they had done together over the life of the project, and was not the only one. Following our meeting with the LMG team, we met with the USAID technical advisor for the project who echoed the support for the work we had done. They are working with local partners to see how to ensure some key elements of support and coaching are available between the end of the LMG/Ethiopia Project and the full transition to local ownership. This is to promote integration of the tools and programs into the local partner institutions and support the long-term sustainability of the investment.

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