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: Global Expectations: USAID Global Health Mini-U Presents Best Practices in Global Health

Global Expectations: USAID Global Health Mini-U Presents Best Practices in Global Health

Account Manager

It was a day of learning about global health. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and George Washington University held the Global Health Mini-University on September 14. The Global Health Mini-U is an annual forum for best practices and the latest health information from around the world.


No one can do it alone

The importance of collaborations and how commercial partnerships are helping build emerging health markets was a hot topic. One highlighted project was the Social Marketing for Change/Commercial Market Strategies projects to promote family planning in Morocco by increasing the use of the contraceptive pill. This model involved engaging pharmaceutical companies, researching pricing, lowering product prices, training pharmacists, and conducting market research from USAID.


Partnerships allow professional associations to reach key opinion leaders in both public and private sectors and build support among critical influencers. Partnerships work best when:

  • There is a close collaboration between private and public sectors
  • There is close collaboration on the marketing plan
  • Companies are willing to independently produce high quality and affordable products
  • All parties can see mutual benefits


Monitoring and evaluating community programs


How do programs report? What are communities being asked to report? What resources do these communities have available? Are community programs providing the data necessary to establish accountability and guide program management? These questions are extremely important for measuring and evaluating global health. The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief reporting indicators are commendable, but are they viable given the realities in the field? Usually, a community worker is a volunteer or low paid staff, with low literacy, who lives in the community, and who is responsible for data collection using lengthy forms and record keeping. Community programs also are expected to provide comparable data to facility-based programs but without comparable physical infrastructure and human resources. This leads to poor data quality, low data use, and program burnout.


The challenge is to ensure that frontline volunteers/staff are not overextended. It does not make sense for frontline workers to collect all the information that the cooperating agencies require for monitoring and evaluation purposes. The reality is that adequate financial resources are needed to obtain data. An alternative approach would be to develop a community roster for supervision, simple forms for case management, semi-annual or annual cluster sample surveys to track coverage, and  population surveys to measure outcomes and impact in project areas. Although this approach requires well-designed baselines, follow-up surveys, and data triangulation, it is feasible.

The future of global health


Challenges facing the future of global-and how to address those challenges-were also discussed at the conference. Among those are the number of people dying of non-communicable diseases; population growth; vulnerable women and girls; resistance to drugs; health funding; diagonal programming; and how civil societies, private individuals, government, and multilaterals work better together. To address the gaps in maternal health, a better job must be done to integrate family planning services and maternal and child health. We need to more deeply understand the barriers and cultural considerations. In some cultures, for example, it is important to target the gatekeepers when designing programs for women.

Implications of urbanization


Countries are facing water scarcity and inadequate infrastructure to meet the needs of the population, lack of focused attention, and investments to find solutions that work in urban areas and can be scaled up, as well as attention to the health needs of the young adolescents.


Strengthening of health systems is also a challenging issue in global health. A health system should deliver high quality care, be accessible, and be well financed. Countries find themselves without resources once funding ends and are unable to keep the infrastructure. They have to start looking internally to determine how they will finance their own health systems, and, especially in emerging economies like India, they need to explore how to create models that can produce profits and be sustainable.


Participants in the Global Health Mini-U for sure had a day of learning, but also of fun. The day ended with a fun activity where students from George Washington and George Mason University were tested in their knowledge of global health. For everybody's satisfaction there was a tie!

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