Posted on November 22, 2013 by Dr. Adiya Munkhtaivan, MCA Director of Mongolia’s Health Project
I travelled to Washington this summer for a weeklong set of meetings with MCC staff and representatives from all of MCC’s health-focused projects. The week drew Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) representatives from health projects in Lesotho and MCA representatives from other education and community development projects around the world. It provided a wonderful opportunity for us to discuss the challenges and successes we have seen in our projects. We had each developed our own strategies and solutions to address the similar challenges we faced, so we had a unique opportunity to learn from one another through our shared experiences.
I directed Mongolia’s health project, which has spent the past five years fighting the growing spread of non-communicable diseases and injuries (NCDIs) among Mongolians. Our project has had a huge impact on human capital in the health sector. Among its achievements, the project has provided training for more than 18,000 medical and administrative staff from all 21 regions in Mongolia, awarded competitive grants to 219 organizations in the health sector and helped bring the world’s top researchers to Mongolia by sponsoring two international NCDI conferences in Ulaanbaatar in 2010 and 2013—the first conferences of this type in the country’s history.
At the time of the conference, Mongolia’s health project was close to completion—but because several other countries’ projects were just beginning, I was able to share ideas and experiences that they could integrate into their projects from the start. The health project was successfully completed on September 17, 2013.
One of the things I emphasized during the meetings was how well partnerships worked in our project. As part of the project, Merck, an American pharmaceuticals company, donated 14,000 vaccines for human papillomavirus (HPV) to help protect Mongolians against cervical cancer. The partnership helped open doors for further investment in health from the private sector in Mongolia, including by Merck itself.
Through a partnership with The George Washington University, the project supported 35 health care workers in a masters of public health (MPH) program in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital. The MPH program incorporated field practicums in which the students focused on a project in their local health clinic. These 35 MPH graduates will serve as a new cohort of public health and NCDI advocates in Mongolia.
The collaboration and conversations we had during the week were vital. The ideas and strategies born in meetings like this help strengthen our knowledge as health project practitioners, as well as our ability to effectively implement projects to benefit the maximum number of people possible—which is a goal we all strive toward.
Posted on November 18, 2013 by Matt Bohn, Philippines Resident Country Director
On November 8, Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines and devastated several areas, including Leyte and Samar, where MCC is funding projects through its $434 million compact.
I joined a team from the U.S. Embassy that flew to the city of Tacloban last week to assess the scale of the damage and see where we could help. As we surveyed the area around the airport, I was able to see firsthand the true scale of the devastation wrought by one of the most powerful storms on record.
The devastation was unimaginable and heartbreaking. Many villages in Eastern Visayas—particularly along the coast—have been flattened, resulting in staggering losses of human life and possessions. Cities and villages in Leyte and Samar were unprepared for winds that reached more than 150 mph and a 10-15-foot storm surge that leveled homes and buildings where the local population sought refuge.
It is truly a shocking tragedy with profound human impact. However, in the depth of this human tragedy, the goodness and resilience of the Filipino people, the Philippine government, the U.S. Government, and the international community are rising above it all. I am in awe as I witness the rapid and large-scale international relief effort underway with the U.S. Government and U.S. military playing lead roles in coordinating and delivering relief supplies, medical assistance and basic services to affected communities.
I’m also grateful that MCC-funded contractors were able to join the relief effort by quickly clearing an important 222-kilometer road segment in Samar, currently under construction through our compact, so relief supplies can get through to remote villages in some of the hardest-hit areas. I also was heartened to learn that some of the MCC-funded Kalahi-CIDDS schools and day-care centers were used as shelters to protect individuals and families during the storm.
MCC’s compact with the Philippines will now take on even greater significance in the affected areas, particularly in Leyte and Samar. MCC-funded infrastructure such as roads, schools, day-care centers, health stations, and water systems will contribute to the long-term reconstruction and prosperity of the region.
The humanitarian response of the United States provides a beacon of good news amid the fog of wreckage. And while the damage left by Haiyan is difficult to describe, my MCA-Philippines colleague Andy Saracho said it best: “We are wounded. We are down. But as a nation, we will rise again.”