A Crash Course in Global Health- George Washington University’s Mini-University

On March 2, 2015, George Washington University held its annual Mini-University (Mini-U) in Washington, DC, an annual learning forum for Global Health professionals and students. With 64 panels held in one day, the event promised to be a “crash course” for those looking to boost their technical knowledge in a diverse set of themes, including HIV/AIDS, family planning and reproductive health, maternal, neonatal, and child health, infectious disease, non-communicable disease, health systems, nutrition, environmental health, and humanitarian relief. Check out some highlights from Hub attended panels below:

The “HRH Effort Index”: New Indicators to Help Health Systems Strengthening
You may have heard of Capacity Plus, a USAID- funded global project, managed by IntraHealth International, focused on strengthening health workforces to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, but have you seen their un-released HRH Effort Index? Alfredo Fort and Kate Gilroy, of IntraHealth International, were at Mini-U to present the new framework to an eager audience interested in human resources for health.CATCHY REDGUARD NAMES

What is the new HRH Effort Index? The index is a new tool to obtain human resources for health (HRH) indicators contributing to health systems strengthening. Modeled after other successful indices, including the Family Planning Effort Index, it aims to alleviate the scarcity of HRH indicators in low- and middle-income countries. For example, although many health professionals and policymakers utilize the density of health professionals per 10,000 population as a reliable measurement for HRH, it often doesn’t capture the depth and breadth of HR engagement in a country (i.e. community health workers). And governance, finance, education and training, recruitment, distribution and retention, human resources management, and monitoring, evaluation and information systems—making it a robust tool to assess a full range of HRH interventions.

How will the index be implemented? The index is designed as a self-administered survey tool, to be completed by relevant shareholders including public and private providers and governments. Once all stakeholders have been surveyed, country results are broken down by the seven dimensions, allowing countries to identify where they have focused efforts and made strides versus which dimensions are comparatively weaker or under-funded. With many countries undergoing a decentralization process, this tool can help both national and local governments allocate funding within countries and across HRH dimensions. BACKGROUND OF REDGUARDS

The HRH effort Index will be publicly launched in Fall 2015 for use by government and other relevant stakeholders. Please check the Hub and the Capacity Plus website for more information about the launch of this new tool.

Africa’s Next Top Model: Pro-Poor Health Enterprises
The SHOPS Project, USAID’s flagship initiative in private sector health and managed by Abt Associates, presented a panel entitled “Africa’s Next Top Model”, focused on pro-poor health enterprises. The panel drew on lessons learned from the SHOPS Health Enterprise fund, which aims to uncover innovative and replicable solutions that address critical health priorities in sub-Saharan Africa. To date, the fund has disbursed USD$3 million to 16 grantees across Africa.

Panelist shared common successful business elements found within their grantee network. They included cross-subsidization, bundling, leveraging existing infrastructure, task shifting (breaking down processes to be performed by lower cadre workers), and partnering with the public sector to target low income populations. Common challenges among grantees included a lack of infrastructure in low income markets, which can increase operational costs, low pricing models that require high volumes to turn a profit, marketing preventative care to low income consumers, and competition with free services offered by the public sector or NGOs.

At the end, the panelists offered a few key take-aways on how to make pro-poor enterprises work. Reaching Africa’s poor is expensive and time consuming, and it requires models that cut costs and increase volume. Pricing is important, but deciding how and when customers pay is as important as determining what they pay. Finally, achieving scale takes time, but through the experiences of the SHOPS Enterprise Fund, it’s become clear that commercial enterprises do have the potential to provide priority health services to the poor in sustainable ways.

Moving Global Health Technologies from Research to Impact
Mini-U’s closing panel included a session on moving global technologies from research to impact. Led by staff at Jhpiego, the goal of the session was to understand the pathway to impact global health technologies and to share critical success factors through a case study format. Panelists noted that although some barriers to entry have lowered for global health technologies—including open innovation platforms, increased donor interest, and new developments in science and technology—others have remained steady. Finding sustained financing, surpassing regulatory and research requirements, facilitating scale-up and addressing complex market dynamics remain barriers to uptake.

Despite challenges, the Jhpiego team shared some key success factors with the audience, including:

Thinking about scale at the onset can lead to greater long term impact
Understanding the root problem you are working to solve, and iteratively finding a solution
Understanding and mitigating market factors, both in the development and adaptation of a product
Bringing the right stakeholders to the table

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