Adapted from speech at the 2015 MDI Opening Ceremony held November 15, 2015
The WHO definition of health indicates that for the first time, health is being defined as more than the absence of illness, but also as the presence of wellbeing. Health is now thought of as a holistic concept that encompasses the presence of physical, mental development, and social and financial capabilities.
As countries experience demographic and epidemiologic transitions, people are living longer, infectious diseases are being cured, and yet, chronic diseases are becoming the norm. The result is that the health sector worldwide is facing ever increasing demands for care while resources continue to decrease. This challenges us to do more with less.
In the face of this challenge, we must realize that the prerequisite for increasing efficiency and effectiveness of health services is good management and strong leadership. At the root of poor leadership and management lie issues including: lack of value for the role of health care managers; limited understanding for the consequences of poor leadership; little to no accountability; not enough preparation for the evolving role. In addition, health managers often face unstable work conditions and constant resource constraints while being pressured to rapidly scale up programs.
It is against this background that I am very grateful to the UCLA Anderson School of Management, Amref Health Africa, and Johnson & Johnson for having the vision to develop the MDI program in West Africa, Eastern Africa and southern Africa. As well as for the more recent support from Ghana Institute for Management and Public Administration, and the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town.
To date, an incredible 935 participants from 32 countries in Africa have graduated from the MDI’s program, and 92 managers from Ghana have been beneficiaries of the Johnson and Johnson MDI scholarships. By the end of this week the program will have trained an additional 17 with the management tools, frameworks and knowledge that enable them to increase the quantity and quality of health services they provide along with improved access to them.
It is noteworthy that MDI does not only involve teaching, but includes a component called Community Healthcare Improvement Project (CHIP). This enables participants to implement what they have been exposed to at MDI, guided by faculty to monitor, advice and address any issues they may face in implementing what they have learnt in their various communities. This I believe is the ultimate culmination of “learn, practice, and share”.
Currently, MDI officials are exploring opening another centre in Dakar Senegal and avail the program to francophone countries. In today’s global world, countries in Africa are more interconnected than ever before, and only artificial boundaries separate us. We have constant movement across borders, from humans to wildlife to diseases. Thus, strengthening health systems in Ghana without one in Togo, Burkina and Cote D’Ivoire may not be fully adequate for Ghana. We welcome this foresight of dismantling language barriers and expanding the training programs to non-English speaking countries.
The Ministry of Health appreciates the support of Johnson & Johnson and all of the MDI partners, in their desire to work with the Ministry and our NGO partners to align our healthcare priorities with the MDI curriculum design. We celebrate 10 years of a hugely successful program and are excited to see the greatness that will unfold in the future from MDI and from its graduates.
To the MDI participants and graduates: Your work as healthcare leaders is an integral part of the systems that we, as Ministries of Health, aim to serve and enhance. It is my hope that you all continue to strive to find success for yourselves and for your organizations. It is only by aspiring to eliminate these complex challenges that we will see great impact made in the face of limited resources.