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Certification of the 2015 Global Health Council Board of Directors Ratification

Certification of the 2015 Global Health Council Board of Directors Ratification

For the ratification of candidates for the Global Health Council’s Board of Directors:

The published response deadline was January 15, 2016. At the close of the ratification, 37 ballots were received. All 37 ballots were received electronically via SurveyMonkey. There were 0 duplicate or invalid ballots.

The 37 valid ballots received exceeded the quorum of 10% of the January 1, 2015 voting member population of 309 organizational and individual members.

The following is the tally of responses for all candidates placed on the ballot to fill seats on the Board of Directors:

Paurvi Bhatt
Simon Bland
Elizabeth Creel
Pat Daly
Akudo Ikemba
Jonathan Quick
Leonard Rubenstein

*Boards terms expire December 31, 2019

Letter of Certification can be made available upon request. Please contact

A majority of valid ballots having been cast for the candidates listed, they are hereby certified as elected.

Certified by: Management Sciences for Health 02/05/2016

Life without health insurance – why we need to protect the most vulnerable

By Dr. Christine Sow, President and Executive Director, Global Health Council. Original source: The Guardian.

Achieving universal health coverage in developing countries has been a dream for years. Dr. Christine Sow explores where progress is happening.

A mother cares for her daughter suffering from malaria in a hospital in Amuria, Uganda. Photograph: Alamy

A mother cares for her daughter suffering from malaria in a hospital in Amuria, Uganda. Photograph: Alamy

What would you do if your child fell ill, your father developed diabetes and required expensive drugs and dialysis, or your sister was diagnosed with breast cancer? A recent report found that one in four households in 40 developing countries resort to borrowing money or selling assets to finance healthcare in these situations. In Zimbabwe, this might mean bartering your family’s peanut crop, in the United States you might resort to internet-based crowdfunding to raise funds, or in Niger selling your family’s cattle to pay the bills.

This dilemma of how to pay for health related expenses is not new. While in some countries, such as Japan and the UK, steps were taken decades ago to provide subsidized healthcare, the majority of countries have left this question to their residents, often with dramatic results.

Driven by the World Health Organization, the World Bank and civil society, the universal health coverage (UHC) movement has grown up around the idea that ensuring basic health needs should never entail facing financial ruin regardless of who you are or where you live. The movement gained prominence in the development community after the second world war with WHO declaring health a fundamental human right, but more recently, the case for UHC has been substantiated with the release of a major report on health financing (pdf) in 2010 and a UN resolution in 2012. The principles of UHC now make up a fundamental component of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

But while tangible progress is being made to embrace the concepts of social and financial inclusion in the health sector, for many the question still remains: how can I pay for the care my family and I require? Some will answer this query by turning to employer or state-provided insurance (pdf), typically available to members of the formal economy. Those less fortunate might turn to family or a moneylender for cash, or worse even be held at the health facility until their family could pay the charges – fear of this has put off expectant mothers in Nairobi slums from seeking professional healthcare. This is why the UHC movement goes to pains to emphasize that radical change must occur in order that health coverage be extended to the world’s most vulnerable populations.

So, what to do? Some countries are already on the way to adopting significant reforms. A recent analysis by the World Bank of 24 countries (pdf) outlined the diverse approaches being used, including cost sharing, pooled risk and cash transfers. Where health coverage does exist it is often not comprehensive, and patients in many countries still end up out of pocket.

But some countries are on the road to getting this right, including Thailand which has had a UHC scheme in place since 2002, Rwanda, where community-based health insurance covers a majority of the population, and Mexico which through the Seguro Popular program has extended financial coverage for health across its population in a short period of time. These efforts are being supported at the global level by a growing coalition of countries, and the existence of this coalition constitutes a major step forward that will aid in negotiating the complex world of UN politics in support of UHC.

The emerging private sector leadership within the financial inclusion sector also has a potentially important role to play in achieving universal health coverage through innovative and groundbreaking approaches to the provision of financing to the poor. These initiatives will help to open new avenues of funding previously untapped for health, such as leveraging private sector contributions to match ongoing donor-funded projects; pooled funding specifically available for women’s and children’s health; and crowd-sourcing. At the same time, while these ideas are gaining traction, questions have also been raised concerning possible conflicts of interest when involving private sector partners and difficulties associated with accountability related to crowdfunding.

Centralized, government-driven financing of health has long been a subject of discussion by policymakers who debate the pros and cons of one-payer systems, the appropriate level of government intervention in the healthcare market, and questions of choice within healthcare provision. However, the provision of private financing that targets the needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable is a potentially radical development.

The deliberate intersection of health policy and finance policy may be the innovation that enables us to expand the amount of funding available for the SDGs. The impact of financial inclusion for health is also now being documented. For example in Bihar, India, a recent study found a positive impact on the health of women and their families as a result of digitized cash transfers. Another recent study documents the impact of financial inclusion approaches on expanding access to water, sanitation and healthcare, also in India.

As we enter this new era of development we must adopt a new mindset and new tools. The fact that the SDG framework includes and promotes equity as part of its fundamental platform is already radical in and of itself; the realization of the principles of social and financial inclusion for health will be a global game changer.

USAID panel emphasizes importance of strong health systems in supporting healthy families

This blog post was written by Alissa Dresie, Global Health Council Intern

On January 21, The Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP), a USAID program focused on strengthening  health systems and ending preventable child and maternal deaths within a generation, hosted Strong Health Systems Support Healthy Families, a half day event. The event looked at how investing in strong health systems is crucial in ending preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths.

MCSP advocates that maternal and child deaths are a strong sign that the health system within a country is failing. They have hopes that the White House approved vision – The U.S. Global Policy and Agenda 2030 – will bridge the gap between demand for care and its effective implementation and lead to a new generation of health leaders.

When the Ebola crisis started making headlines globally, it brought attention to global health and the weak health systems within these West African countries. The outbreak showed the necessity for strong health systems and helped to open a discourse on the topic. It showed what could and should be done in the future for building and maintaining strong health systems and the universal importance of having these strong health systems not only within individual countries, but also in a global context.

With government support, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) has built strong health systems through a series of projects. Panelist, Dr. Zipporah Kpamor, the Nigeria Country Representative for MSH, pointed to the success that Nigeria has had in combating HIV/AIDS in recent years. Transmission rates between mother and child declined and the progress in combating and educating people about HIV/AIDS has extended into more effective maternal care. Additionally, Nigerian health workers were able to take the knowledge gained from their history with polio eradication and use it in combating the recent Ebola outbreak. The existing systems and history used in eradicating polio were crucial when applied to the control of the Ebola epidemic. Dr. Kpamor stated that, “When talking about sustainability we have to strengthen capacity” and outlined what building strong health systems requires. Strong health systems require large initial investments, but these investments often have unpredicted benefits as seen in both HIV/AIDS care and treatment, improving maternal care, and the eradication of smallpox assisting in controlling the Ebola outbreak.

Damtew Woldemariam Dagoye, with the Ethiopia Strengthening Human Resources for Health (HRH) Project at Jhpiego, spoke to the very different health systems in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is still in the process of modernizing both their educational and health systems. Currently, efforts are being made to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by expanding health facilities and training a new generation of health workers. Ethiopia is still very behind on achieving recommended health worker density – the World Health Organization recommends that a country have 32 health workers for every 10,000 people – Ethiopia currently has only seven health workers per every 10,000. Ethiopia is in its fourth phase of the Health Sector Development Plan, which sets out to improve awareness about personal and environmental hygiene and basic knowledge of common diseases and their causes, as well as promote political and community support for health systems.

A large barrier in achieving global health goals is that fundamental health systems lack the necessary attention. This was helped by the Ebola outbreak which brought attention to failing health systems, but people still tend to focus on health fads rather than the fundamental requirements of the health system. Robert Clay, Vice President of Global Health with Save the Children US, emphasized that people have a cyclical attention span and the real challenge is maintaining attention and investment. Clay echoed Dr. Kpamor’s sentiment that health systems can be the gift that keeps on giving, creating long term positive outcomes.

All three panelists agreed that the future of global health is one that needs to include finance plans so governments can better understand the real cost of building and maintaining strong health systems. There also needs to be a shift to a culture that is more evidence-based. The message communicated by all the panelists is that there needs to more communication within countries and between countries that reiterates that investing in health will lead to stronger economies and the support for health systems needs to come from domestic resources. Fundamentally, there needs to not only be sustainability in the health systems themselves, but in the interest merited by health issues and health systems so that sustainable achievements can be met.

IMA World Health Helps Women ‘Overcome’ SGBV in Eastern DR Congo

This guest blog was provided by IMA World Health

Involving women in decision-making bodies is necessary for the sustainable development of communities. However, women in the Democratic Republic of Congo are often overwhelmed with ensuring their own survival due to violence and frequent pregnancies, which keeps them in poverty.

Survivors perform for Ms. Sewall after her tour of the hospital. (IMA World Health/Crystal Stafford)

Survivors perform for Ms. Sewall after her tour of the hospital. (IMA World Health/Crystal Stafford)

The problem of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the eastern DRC has its roots in chronic and unequal gender relations. To address this, efforts have been underway to assist survivors of SGBV, combat impunity, empower women to exercise their rights, and engage communities in long-term attitude change. Since July 2010, IMA World Health (IMA) has led a USAID-funded project in the DRC called Ushindi, which means “to overcome” in Swahili. The project has had a very successful five years of helping survivors of SGBV heal and reintegrate into their communities. From 2010 to 2015, Ushindi has provided medical assistance to 18,000 survivors and psychosocial support to over 25,000 women.

Elisabeth is one such beneficiary. Like many women in this part of the world, Elisabeth, a single mother, has suffered an obstetric fistula. Fistulas occur from obstructed (unattended) labor and cause incontinence in urine or feces—or both. Often the woman is rejected by the community and suffers from insomnia and loneliness. Project Ushindi, through Heal Africa, IMA’s implementing partner in four health zones, provided Elisabeth with transportation, medical treatment, psychosocial support, lodging and food. After her treatment she returned home and joined one of Ushindi’s Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) and was able to generate an income for herself through these activities. Elisabeth is now in good health, fully reintegrated into her community, teaching again, and proudly able to support her young children. Ushindi has created a total of 432 VSLAs in the Kivus, a region still suffering from protracted conflict.

HEAL Africa is one of IMA’s implementing partners for the Ushindi Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (IMA World Health/Crystal Stafford)

HEAL Africa is one of IMA’s implementing partners for the Ushindi Project in the
Democratic Republic of Congo. (IMA World Health/Crystal Stafford)

In late 2015, the United States Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, Sarah B. Sewall, visited the Ushindi project in Goma in an effort to gain better understanding of what USAID-funded projects are like on the ground. During her opening statement, she said, “In Washington, your program is held in high regard and I am very pleased to come and hear and see this program for myself.”

Ms. Sewall was given a tour of the Heal Africa Hospital where she briefly met with survivors of gender-based violence in a confidential setting. She reported that she was very pleased with the visit and with the work that Ushindi is doing.

Because of Ushindi, thousands of women in eastern DRC are overcoming the many challenges they face and are able to work toward the sustainable development needed for their communities to thrive.


WaterAid leads effort to provide water, sanitation and hygiene in healthcare facilities in Mali

This success story was provided by GHC member, WaterAid

In January 2015, with the support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and in partnership with the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, WaterAid began a three-year initiative to improve access to drinking water and sanitation in rural healthcare facilities in Mali. Mali is one of the least-developed countries in the world, ranking 176 of 187 on the Human Development Index. Of 139 healthcare facilities studied in Segou, Mopti, Tombouctou and Gao regions, 62% experience water quality issues, 68% have limited handwashing facilities and 20% have insufficient water to meet their patients’ basic daily requirements. A lack of safe water, toilets and handwashing facilities poses significant health risks to patients, health workers, and nearby communities. Indeed, the 2015 Ebola epidemic in West Africa underscored the urgent need for addressing this critical issue.

Photo credit:  WaterAid/ Tara Todras-Whitehill

Photo credit: WaterAid/ Tara Todras-Whitehill

During the first year, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health, WaterAid and partners sought to gain a better understanding of the needs and challenges in the selected healthcare facilities. WaterAid and partners convened a national workshop to evaluate current policies, the funding landscape and the state of existing infrastructure.  We trained health workers on good hygiene practices, raised awareness of patients on the need for safe water and proper sanitation, and installed handwashing and drinking water stations. Journalists attended training sessions that explored the effects of water, sanitation and hygiene on public health. WaterAid also launched ‘Healthy Start’ in Mali, a four-year global advocacy priority focusing on maternal and child health with a call for every healthcare facility to have clean running water and safe, separate and accessible toilets for men and women.

Despite Mali’s fragile socio-political environment, WaterAid and partners expect to maintain progress in year two. We will use safety plans to continually monitor risks associated with water, sanitation and hygiene in the selected healthcare facilities, construct and rehabilitate waterpoints, and install toilets and incinerators for healthcare waste management. Throughout the program, WaterAid and its partners will continually monitor water, sanitation and hygiene in communities, schools, and health centers. Improving water access in Mali’s healthcare facilities is one additional step toward meeting WaterAid’s goal of providing water and sanitation to everyone, everywhere by 2030 in line with the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goal #6, as well as efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage under SDG Goal #3.