12 Nov Improving Community Health Services: The MSH Project
The organisation I am working for, GWED-G, has recently begun a social accountability project funded by Management Sciences for Health (MSH). This project leverages the force of putting evidence-based changes at the forefront of health system transformation.
The idea behind the project is to intensively measure service and quality gaps specifically targeting women’s health issues. This includes access to sexual and reproductive health, that is family planning, HIV testing and treatment, ante- and post-natal health, and maternal and child health. Women’s health issues have been traditionally neglected, due to restrictive patriarchal norms limiting women’s access to health care and control over decisions related to their bodies and their children’s well-being.
The MSH project aims to improve access to and quality of services by identifying gaps in the health system in the Lamwo, Pader, Agago, Kitgum, Gulu, Amuru, and Nwoya districts. GWED-G will work with key stakeholders, including facility-based staff, to advocate for the importance of drawing attention to critical needs areas and make improvements to better serve communities. One key outcome is to ensure that proper budgeting is afforded to fund these areas and that the funds are not mismanaged.
Corruption and mismanagement in the health care system is an unfortunate circumstance that impedes health providers’ abilities to provide care for their community members. By focusing on cultivating a spirit of accountability of good health management practices, it is GWED-G’s hope that this project will be a step in the right direction to promoting better health for women, children, and communities as a whole.
I have been fortunate to support this project by supporting the baseline evaluation in training my colleague in Stakeholder Power Analysis, to ensure that the team is able to define the key players in the project and how best to gain their active participation for success. I was also able to train and work with the team in developing an Advocacy Strategy to sketch out core messaging to our beneficiaries and partners, as well support GWED-G management with training on developing a Communication Plan.
Stakeholder buy-in is a critical element in tackling systemic mismanagement of funds as it is a tricky subject to broach. Advocacy is a key component of getting stakeholders on-board with proposed shifts in the ways health management staff conduct their business, and it is essential for the community beneficiaries who would benefit from positive changes. Community members throughout the region have grown dissatisfied with lackluster service provision, therefore encouraging them to start or return to using community health services must be seriously considered for the success of this project.
This social accountability project will run until July 2020 and GWED-G will work towards inviting the adoption of using continuous service provision measurement to improve health system services in the area. In places affected by high poverty and corruption like Northern Uganda, access to health care and quality of medical services are key issues. Human costs related to a highly defective health system are gigantic. It slows economic development and restrains people who have already suffered much to meet their basic human rights. Hence, it is with much passion and interest that GWED-G is trying to change that, and that I do my best to help them achieving their objectives.