Management Sciences for Health was selected as a Devex Top 40 Development Innovator based on a poll of thousands of global development professionals who are part of Devex, the largest network of aid and relief workers in the world.
Announced on April 18, Devex Top 40 Development Innovators is an impressive listing of the world’s leading donor agencies & foundations, development consulting companies, implementing NGOs, and advocacy groups.
We asked each of the Innovators four questions to learn how they stay ahead to the curve and tackle old development challenges in new ways. Here’s how MSH responded:
‘For 40 years, helping leaders, health managers, and communities build stronger health systems for greater health impact’
If you had to condense it to just one or two sentences, overall, what is it that makes your organization innovative?
MSH believes that the knowledge, energy, talent, and innovation needed to solve complex health problems exist within each country. We focus on empowering the people by strengthening their management, leadership and governance capacity.
MSH helps leaders, health managers, and communities in developing nations build stronger health systems for greater health impact. We work at all levels: from the household to the community to health facilities to national authorities. We harness the strengths of people in all sectors – private, public and civil society — to work together to achieve greater results. Our proven systems approach is saving lives and improving the health of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people by closing the gap between knowledge and public health.
Can you provide a specific example of something your organization has done that is particularly innovative?
With MSH’s support, the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority has trained and accredited licensed drug dispensers, a new class of provider, that is helping to fill the gap left by a scarcity of registered pharmacists. MSH helped train 4,000 people (90 percent of them women), as license drug dispensers — a new employee base for the health system. All licensed drug dispensers manage medicines and information, including appropriate storage and dispensing practices, recordkeeping, monitoring and inspection of medicines. These workers live in the communities they serve, and invest their earnings there. The drug dispensers provide reliable medical information, dispense appropriate medicines and supplies for family planning, the prevention of HIV& AIDS, and the treatment of malaria and childhood diarrhea.
Accredited drug dispensing outlets put community-level prevention and treatment services within the reach for many people. In a country where malaria is prevalent, ADDOs are the only privately owned outlets, aside from scarce pharmacies, that can provide the most effective antimalarial medication: artemisinin-based combination therapy. The ADDO program has strengthened national and district-level health teams to provide leadership to shop owners, who in turn serve as leaders in their communities.
Looking ahead 10 years, what are some of the innovations in international development that your organization wants to be a part of?
As a result of our work, leaders, health managers, and communities in developing nations are increasingly able to tackle complex public health challenges. They have strong management and leadership skills, practical tools, and the financial and human resources needed to save lives and improve the health of their citizens. Universal health coverage is in place. Medicines and quality health care services are available and accessible to all. We would like to contribute to innovative models for supply chain strengthening of pharmaceutical systems and building sustainable health systems.
One factor in driving innovation at any organization is the talent you hire and the partnerships you make. How does your organization take into account innovation when it comes to cultivating talent and partners?
MSH’s operational philosophy for both our local staff and partners is guided by the ancient wisdom of Lao Tzu’s Tao of Leadership: Go to the people. Live with them. Love them. Learn from them. Start with what they have. Build on what they know. But of the best leaders. When their task is accomplished. The work is done. The people will all say. We have done it ourselves. [Read another Lao Tzu translation, the editor.]
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