Author Archives: mrudulanaidu

Small Innovations, Big Impacts _Key to Strengthening Health Systems

With  the growing failure to deliver safe  and affordable treatment and daunting increase in number of deaths of  men, women and children. Innovations in health products, practices, and technologies have the potential to revolutionize global health.

I came across this article through Karen Grepin’s Blog and thought how amazing this tradition was , a 75 yr old tradition of gifting new mothers a maternity kit as they leave the hospital and how mothers choose them over the cash. My eyes lit up when I saw the contents of the box and wait –it  costs less than $180. Bravo ! I  couldn’t help but relate this to the low infant mortality rate in Finland and thought about how many mothers in low income settings would find it appealing with strategies/innovations like this to seek care and  deliver in health care facilities.

Fig 1: Maternity Box,Finland and its contents  & Image Courtesy-BBC

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Joy Teni is a newly appointed midwife in a primary health care center in South Sudan. After taking charge in the only PHC in this northern region , she realized that women only opted to use the natural family planning –Lactational Amenorrhea Method ( LAM ) and believed that modern methods would prevent them for giving birth in future. In an attempt to change this situation , Joy created a visual display of family planning methods which she used  during antenatal care visits, as well as with post-natal mothers and husbands. Briefly after doing this she noticed a change in pattern of using the modern family planning methods. And how much did this cost ?Zero. Marketing an old idea into a new one is also innovation and What a simple and effective way to address the problem!

Fig 2: Modern Family Planning Methods, Display-South Sudan & Image Courtesy:MSH

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Do I think we can address serious issues within health systems by simple innovations? Yes.

What’s stopping countries with limited funding to take advantage of innovations like this?If critics consider that these innovations are contributing to the problem of healthcare funding, it only seems reasonable to argue and show how successfully they can contribute to a solution.

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I am your favorite child….

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After her sister Rose fell asleep, Emma asked her mother , “ Ma, who is your favorite ,me or Rose ?”

Her mother replied “ You both are “,

Emma unhappy about what she heard asked her mother again “ No mom, but you have to choose one , either me or Rose “.

Her mother replied “ Alright then , its you my baby “  said she to make her happy .

I can’t help but wonder what would the mother’s answer be if Rose was awake and a part of this conversation. Would she have  answered the question out loud and  how difficult would it even be  for her ?

Political priority is defined as ‘the degree to which international and national political leaders actively give attention to an issue, and back up that attention with the provision of financial, technical, and human resources that are commensurate with the severity of the issue’ 1 . Unarguably HIV/AIDS is the favorite child  and did receive and continues to receive political priority more than any disease we know ,  but we also know that it was not as easy as asking just a  simple question of choice. Jeremy  Shiffman talks about  reasons for this attention , a framework “consisting of four categories:” the strength of the actors involved in the initiative, the power of the ideas they use to portray the issue, the nature of the political contexts in which they operate, and characteristics of the issue itself”.2

But why do some initiatives get more attention than the others, why do some relate to the political leaders and to us at large and others don’t? Let us ask ourselves the same question , why do you to tend to relate more to AIDS than Diabetes ?Is it because one framework is more credible and salient than the other or is it just too complicated to simply put in rational terms .The answer might be both .

Indeed, the very act of choosing which issues to prioritize in our daily lives forces us to evaluate our values and aspirations as individual agents against the shared values that structure the societies in which we live.”3

So our biggest struggle right now is to choose and get by everyday like the mother did and like you and I do , but priorities do change and we can only hope that they change for better not for worse.

References:

1,3. Anthony Maher and Devi Sridhar , Political priority in the global fight against non–communicable diseases,J Glob Helath.2012 December ;2(2) :020403

2.Shiffman, Jeremy,Generation of political priority for global health initiatives: a framework and case study of maternal mortality,Lancet 2007; 370: 1370–79

4.Karen Grepin Class notes,September 19th 2013:Are we rational and Objective when it comes to Global Health

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