Strong government leadership & management are key to building sustainable community health systems

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Mike Park/AMP Health

Building and operating a sustainable national community health system requires strong leadership and management from ministries of health (MoH). While many MoHs have strong technical expertise, less emphasis has traditionally been placed on leadership and management.

Aspen Management Partnership for Health (AMP Health) works with MoHs to extend the reach of community health systems at scale by building capacity for effective leadership and management practices, and serving as a conduit for relevant private sector know-how and resources. AMP Health’s key features include:

  • Placement of management partners (MPs) with private sector management experience to engage in real-time capacity-building and skills transfer with the MoH;
  • Targeted leadership and management development program; and
  • Platform for cross-country sharing of best practices.

We believe that strong leadership and management is key to building sustainable, country-led community health systems. To build these capabilities, each of AMP Health’s partner countries – Kenya, Malawi and Sierra Leone – is supported by a MP who is embedded as part of the MoH’s community health team. Leveraging their private sector management experience, MPs work to build the capacity of their teams through real-time skill development.

As an MOH colleague from Malawi said: “Before meeting with a critical partner, our MP walked me through how to create and present a business case. I took the lead in the meeting and we ultimately secured $40k in resources for critical activities to develop the national Community Health Strategy. A key learning: alignment of your needs to partner needs underscores a powerful business case for securing funding from partners."

Working full time in the MoH, MPs build strong relationships with colleagues and gain a deep understanding of the country’s community health system. As a result, they are able to become a trusted member of the team who not only works to build capability, but also encourages the MoH to adopt new, more effective ways of working. For some of AMP Health’s countries, this has meant thinking differently about how and with whom to partner.

As a public-private partnership, AMP Health recognizes the power of robust cross-sector relationships. Investing in community health workers could be of interest to a diverse set of actors, given community health workers’ role in keeping the workforce healthy, distributing health commodities and as part of a rising consumer class.

With the help of MPs, country teams have made significant progress in building innovative relationships with the private sector. In Sierra Leone, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation formed a partnership with Ecobank, a pan-African banking conglomerate, to provide training to community health workers on managing their finances as well as management training for Ministry staff. As countries seek more local sustainability, identifying such potential partners and understanding the opportunities for collaboration become all the more important.

AMP Health teams will be sharing their experiences building leadership and management capacity as well as public-private partnerships at the Institutionalizing Community Health Conference on March 28th at 15:30 SAST (8:30 EST). We hope you will join us – whether live or via webcast – to hear more about the work we are doing in these three countries.

To learn more about the work we do, please visit our website or contact us. And to meet our MPs, click here.

Is your country interested in partnering with AMP Health? Let us know!

Kiersten Abate, Senior Program Associate, AMP Health

This blog is part of the Institutionalizing Community Health Conference blog series. We encourage those unable to join the conference to stay virtually connected and to add your voice to the conversation at #HealthForAll. As part of this series, we are posting blogs from our staff and partners around the world highlighting the necessity of community health in reaching those not currently accessing key health services.

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