Poverty Reduction Blog Tag: Health
Posted on January 28, 2014 by Dr. Ruhul Amin, Chief of Party, USAID-MCC Immunization Protects Children Project
It was a lovely, bright morning as I walked beside the broad, blue river that passes through the district town of Viqueque in Timor-Leste. Kids were heading to school in their colorful uniforms, shouting "Bondia!” (“Good morning!”) to me. It made me smile to see them going to school to make their lives and their young country better. At the same time, I worried about the many challenges they face in a country with one of the world’s poorest populations.
Timor-Leste is just 11 years old. Its health and development indicators, including immunization coverage, are among the worst in Asia. About 23 percent of 1-year-old children did not receive any immunizations, and the country has experienced several outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in recent years. For example, more than 800 people contracted measles—and eight people died—during a nationwide outbreak in 2011.
As I walked to the district health center in Viqueque where the staff of the immunization project that I lead helps the Ministry of Health to improve immunization services, I wondered if the school kids in the group were fully immunized. Some of the diseases that we treat successfully through immunization in the United States can be deadly in Timor-Leste.
Timor-Leste’s $10.5 million Threshold Program focuses on anti-corruption initiatives and immunization. Under the $2.6 million immunization component, MCC is helping address the country’s low immunization rates by working with USAID and the Timorese Ministry of Health to increase coverage of the measles vaccine and the third dose of the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine. The project targets seven of the country's 13 districts, focusing on areas where more than 75 percent of under-immunized Timorese children under 5 years of age live.
The program provides technical assistance to the Ministry to improve the effectiveness, quality and accessibility of immunization services. This involves training staff, developing and applying new tools, providing staff and transport assistance, and coordinating community engagement activities, better reporting, mentoring, and supervision. Project implementers have been working hard to reach hard-to-reach communities by whatever means necessary—on foot, on horseback, by boat, and once by U.S. Navy helicopters.
In Timor-Leste, families often lack the basics, including proper nutrition, clean water and sanitation and fundamental health services. Delivering health services is one of the biggest challenges that the Ministry of Health faces. The average walking distance from a household to the nearest health facility is more than an hour, and during the wet season even short distances become impassable. Although health services from public health facilities are free, parents still lose a day’s wages on transport costs. Most parents follow traditional beliefs and practices and do not seek care from a health facility except for the most serious problems.
The immunization program has already produced some impressive results. DPT3 coverage in Baucau, the country’s second largest city, increased from 74 percent when the program began in January 2011 to 100 percent by June 2013.
The program’s success goes beyond Baucau. The Ministry of Health reports a significant increase in immunization coverage in Timor-Leste. DTP3 coverage nationwide increased from 67 percent in 2011 to 78 percent in 2013. The districts that are the focus of the MCC-funded program saw immunization coverage reach 84 percent.
Challenges remain in providing adequate immunization coverage throughout the country. Essential drugs and immunizations are sometimes out of stock. Deliveries of fuel for cold-chain refrigerators are delayed. Vehicles sometimes don't have enough fuel to travel to remote communities. But the Government of Timor-Leste has been working diligently to overcome these obstacles, and I'm happy that I am part of the effort to provide all Timorese a healthier future.
Posted on May 10, 2013 by Stacy Alboher, Program Officer for East Africa
Asbestos is a hazardous material that can cause lung cancer, asbestosis and other deadly respiratory diseases. In early 2012, MCC discovered that asbestos-containing materials—very common in older buildings in Africa—were present in the majority of health facilities being renovated under the Lesotho Compact’s Health Sector Project, leading to concerns about potential exposure of both workers and surrounding community members.
Additionally, many of the health facilities under renovation have been operating for decades without a systematic nationwide approach for disposing of the medical waste being generated. This waste was deposited in open pits, burned or buried onsite. It contained syringes, medicine or biological waste. And it had accumulated without any markings to indicate where the waste was located.
When contractors began digging at the health facility sites, they often came into contact with this material. In some cases, their earth-moving activities spread the waste across the sites, creating a bigger potential for exposure and contact.
Over the past year, MCC has been working closely with MCA-Lesotho, the project’s supervisory engineer and the construction contractors to put in place procedures for ensuring that the risks associated with both asbestos-containing materials and medical waste are appropriately mitigated. During a recent trip to Lesotho, we developed this video to document the issue and describe the processes put in place to respond to the challenge.
Through the Lesotho Compact, we are not only addressing the immediate risk related to our project but also helping Lesotho to develop a sustainable process to continue addressing these issues in the future.
Posted on May 1, 2013 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice participated in MCC’s 2013 Forum on Global Development this past Monday and engaged in a lively discussion with Frank Sesno, the Director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University. Dr. Rice described the MCC model as the best combination of American interests and values. She sees this in the U.S. Government’s willingness to partner with the developing world through MCC to help countries determined to help themselves. She sees this in how MCC partners within countries, engaging directly with citizens, businesses, government ministries, and nongovernmental organizations and encouraging them to map out their own, homegrown path to development. And, she also sees MCC’s strength in catalyzing partnerships between developing countries, who motivate each other to reform their policies in order to compete and qualify for MCC funding, in what she—and so many others—aptly call the MCC Effect.
We share Secretary’s Rice affirmation of the power of partnerships. Results-focused partnerships that leverage our limited resources, amplify our intended impact and sustain the benefits of our investments have been—and will continue to be—a priority for MCC. With support from both Chevron and the United Nations Foundation, Monday’s Forum created the perfect opportunity to discuss how partnerships advance effective development and make a lasting difference in the lives of the world’s poor. More than 200 people attended as we celebrated such partnerships by recognizing the achievements of this year’s recipients of MCC’s Country Commitment Award, Corporate Award and Next Generation Award.
Mrs. Sophia Mohapi of MCA-Lesotho received MCC’s Country Commitment Award, recognizing her efforts to partner with Lesotho’s government to secure additional funding to sustain the MCC-funded investments made in health and water. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. won MCC’s Corporate Award, recognizing this Vermont company’s strong partnerships with fair trade coffee growers in MCC partner countries that help promote food security and long-term prosperity. Jessica Matthews and Julia Silverman of Uncharted Play were presented the Next Generation Award by DC United star player Dwayne De Rosario for their SOCCKET, a clever soccer ball invention that doubles as an eco-friendly portable generator. By forging partnerships with sponsors and local implementation partners around the world, the SOCCKET creators have ensured that minutes of play can lead to hours of electricity for those families struggling off the electrical grid. These honorees demonstrate what is possible through partnering. I invite you to learn more about their stories and be inspired by their compassion and creativity to uplift the poor and vulnerable.
We were also pleased that Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Deputy National Security Advisor Michael Froman could join us. Senator Leahy concluded the Forum by presenting MCC’s Corporate Award and reaffirming that partnerships are key to delivering development assistance effectively. Mr. Froman highlighted the importance of integrated and coordinated strategies, including input from MCC as well as private companies, to the Administration’s global development strategy.
What continues to resonate with me from this week’s Forum is the sheer determination and commitment by government, civil society and the private sector to do more by partnering more. This is what has made—and will continue to make—a tangible difference in the lives of the world’s poor.
Posted on February 14, 2013 by Alice Riedel, Lesotho Deputy Resident Country Director
I had the honor of taking part in handing over the newly constructed Lesotho Blood Transfusion Services Center last month. MCC invested in the new center—which is expected to collect 5,000 blood units in 2013, compared to 3,381 in 2008—to help improve health services in Lesotho.
The country’s former blood transfusion center was too small; it lacked proper equipment and operated from a rented property in Maseru that was not designed to provide transfusion services. The new center, part of MCC’s five-year, $363 million compact with Lesotho, provides a dedicated central facility for collecting and processing blood to supply nearby hospitals.
MCC also invested in a mobile blood collection vehicle that will collect and transfer blood to the new center for screening.
“The new center is a huge achievement for the Ministry of Health,” said Maleqhoa Nyopa, manager of the Lesotho Blood Transfusion Service.“We have been struggling to implement our activities effectively,” Nyopa said. “Now that we have been given this new building, which is bigger than the one we have been using, our work is going to improve tremendously. The building is large enough to allow us to store as much blood as possible, which will help save lives.”
In addition to this center, the compact’s Health Sector Project is designed to mitigate the negative economic impacts of poor maternal health, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other diseases. MCC is strengthening Lesotho’s health care system through the construction of up to 138 health centers spread across the country, hospital outpatient departments, staff housing, and a central laboratory and residences to accommodate National Health Training College students.
The infrastructure investments are so numerous and complex and cover such a vast geographic area, that it can be difficult to remember the real impact in the lives of individual Basotho. A colleague’s friend who works in a hospital in Lesotho recently shared with me some of the challenges of managing the blood supply here. He told me that having enough blood to serve all patients is extremely challenging because of the testing required, given the 24 percent rate of HIV prevalence. He is confident that the new blood center, along with blood drives, will alleviate some of these challenges.
I am proud to be part of an initiative that is helping improve health care in Lesotho in practical ways like making sure that there is adequate blood supply when a woman needs an emergency operation while giving birth. We are leaving behind tangible results.
Posted on February 14, 2013 by Tim Clary , Director, Division of Technical Services
For decades, most international health projects have focused on addressing communicable diseases that were major causes of morbidity and mortality in developing countries.
But now, many countries are facing a double burden as non-communicable diseases and injuries (NCDIs) have become more prevalent. More than five years ago, when the Government of Mongolia chose to focus on NCDIs as part of its MCC compact, it probably did not foresee that it would become a leader in providing lessons for other countries seeking to address NCDI issues.
The compact’s $39 million Health Project, geographically covers the entire country and 95 percent of the Mongolian population. It addresses the issue of NCDIs through a multi-pronged approach and on several different technical levels.
Last month, I visited Clinical Hospital No. 3 in Ulaanbaatar, where compact funds will be used to refurbish and provide equipment to help the hospital become the nation’s primary center for diagnosing, caring for and treating Mongolians suffering from strokes and acute myocardial infarctions. In Khentii aimag, I visited hospitals that typically provide primary care services and that now provide both secondary and tertiary health care, such as diagnosing cervical cancer and providing ongoing treatment for diabetes and hypertension. At both levels, health care providers have received extensive training on NCDIs, ranging from emergency care to counseling patients on healthy lifestyles and behaviors. This helps the community by preventing diseases which will help them live longer and healthier lives.
Compact funds have also been used to sponsor a small grants program in the community so NGOs, private clinics and non-health organizations (such as elementary and secondary schools) can receive funding for innovative ideas to support the reduction in NCDIs.
Fundamental to the support for health care workers and their patients have been policy changes within the public and private sectors. Millennium Challenge Account-Mongolia has worked with the Government of Mongolia to revise tobacco and alcohol laws, as well as establishing a health promotion fund to address NCDIs.
Within the private sector, MCA-Mongolia has worked with organizations such as Talkh-Chikher bakery to reduce the salt content within its Atar bread, Mongolia’s leading brand of bread.
The main lesson from my site visit to the Talkh-Chikher bakery in Ulaanbaatar is that advocacy is bringing change.
Posted on November 30, 2012 by Marcel Ricou, Program Officer
About 23 percent of Lesotho’s population is infected with HIV/AIDS, one of the highest prevalence rates in the world. In response, MCC has invested $122 million in health infrastructure and to strengthen Lesotho’s health systems. A major portion of the Health Sector Project focuses on rehabilitating 138 health centers across the country, all of which play a pivotal role in providing primary health care to local communities. MCC’s investments leverage those from other donor and U.S. Government programs, including the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Program officer Marcel Ricou shows us how MCC and the Government of Lesotho are working together to combat HIV/AIDS.
Posted on October 2, 2012 by Patrick Fine, Vice President, Department of Compact Operations
Two weeks ago, MCC was delighted to host a delegation from the Government of Indonesia (GOI) for the signing of a Project Implementation Agreement (PIA), the document that sets out the operational details for implementing MCC’s compact with Indonesia. The compact focuses on investments in renewable energy and sustainable natural resource use, maternal and child nutrition, and public procurement modernization.
The Indonesian delegation was led by Pak Lukita Tuwo, who is the Vice Minister of the Planning Ministry and GOI’s principal representative for the MCC compact. Pak Lukita was accompanied by members of his staff, including Ibu Emmy, the head of the Ministry’s legal bureau, and Pak Kennedy, its director for bilateral foreign funding.
We were also pleased to be joined by Pak Dino Djalal, Indonesia’s Ambassador to the United States, and Ambassador Djani, who is the head of North American and European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Djani was in Washington for the semi-annual meeting of the U.S.-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership, where Secretary of State Clinton and Foreign Minister Natalegawa announced the signing of the PIA.
The signing, which took place in MCC’s Washington office, was marked by a sense of celebration and anticipation: MCC and GOI expect the compact to enter into force within the next few months. The PIA sets out the terms for the new Millennium Challenge Account – Indonesia (MCA-I), the first institution of its kind in the country and one that we hope will provide a path-breaking model for other development projects in Indonesia.
We’re also seeing other signs of progress as we move toward entry into force: the first meeting of the MCA-I Board of Trustees, the approval of the first disbursement request for funds, and the signing of five major contracts. I’m proud of what the MCC and GOI teams are doing to move this exciting program forward. Expectations are high, especially among the Indonesian people in the provinces, where many of the compact activities will be implemented.
While much hard work and many challenges lie ahead, we’re already seeing the power of partnership and are confident that the compact will not only improve lives of Indonesians, but strengthen the ties between our two nations.
Posted on September 11, 2012 by D. Chuluuntsetseg, MCA-Mongolia, and Ch. Tserenkhand, The Asia Foundation
Last year, Millennium Challenge Account-Mongolia and The Asia Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding that brings the latest medical and technical information to Mongolia’s future doctors, engineers, computer programmers, and other skilled workers.
Under the agreement, the foundation’s Books for Asia program delivered 10,000 new technical, vocational and medical books, CDs and DVDs to students and health centers benefitting from MCC's five-year, $285 million compact with Mongolia.
Many publishers generously contributed to the initiative, including McGraw-Hill, John Wiley & Sons, Oxford University Press, W.W. Norton & Company, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Books of Discovery, and Island Press.
Highly motivated teachers and students put the books to practical use. Ms. Dorjderem, an assistant teacher of English at the School of Health Technology, currently uses Hole's Essentials of Human Anatomy and Physiology-Laboratory Manual to prepare class lectures. She also uses Medical Language for Modern Health Care in her classes to improve her students’ medical English proficiency.
Dorjderem also established the school’s first English reading club, using donated books. The club has become a popular place among teachers, students and nurses to improve their English, teaching and learning skills.
One student, B. Banzragch, significantly improved his English skills and was able to enroll in a course at a Japanese university.
“The books from America helped me a lot in gaining knowledge and language skills to achieve my goals,” he said. “These books are really wonderful in terms of giving systemic knowledge and are well-designed and very user-friendly.”
As the legendary Mongolian poet, D. Natsagdorj said, “books are windows to the world.”
Posted on July 17, 2012 by B. Tsolmon, MCA gender specialist and focal point, and L. Gerelmaa, MCA gender specialist and focal point
MCA-Mongolia’s commitment to gender integration in its compact has received praise on both sides of the Pacific.
We represented MCA-Mongolia at the inaugural MCC Forum on Global Development in April for receiving the Country Commitment Award. To commemorate this achievement, the Mongolian prime minister hosted a high-profile event in May to celebrate the accomplishment in our country as well.
“We can now witness a tangible impact on the lives of thousands of Mongolians as a result of the compact,” Prime Minister Sükhbaataryn Batbold said at the event at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar.
Not only are stakeholders in the U.S. now aware of the positive strides we’ve made with gender integration, but also ministers, cabinet members, and members of the public and press who attended the event in Ulanbaataar.
A compact beneficiary, Javzan T., shared her experiences and expressed her gratitude to MCC and MCA-Mongolia. Javzan T. is a single mother of eight who benefitted from the compact’s Property Rights Project by having exclusive rights to lease more than 600 hectares of rangeland.
“It is a great opportunity for us to develop our livestock business,” she said. “I would like to express my appreciation to the American people, who have stretched their helping hands to us from such a far place.”
We are very proud to champion the integration of gender considerations across a wide range of operational areas in the Mongolia Compact, including program implementation, communications and monitoring and evaluation. We conducted gender trainings with our program implementation units and contractors and established points of contact on gender issues in each unit. These measures are being reflected in more equitable benefits and have resulted in greater land ownership among women, herder training tailored to both women’s and men’s needs, and health interventions that are mindful of women’s and men’s needs in our communities.
Posted on March 30, 2012 by Daniel Yohannes , Chief Executive Officer
Today’s release of MCC’s 2011 Annual Report, appropriately titled Gateway to Opportunity, captures the milestones of the past year and articulates clear priorities moving forward. In the report, you can read about the significant strides we have made in delivering results, forging partnerships with countries and civil society, and championing policy reforms to create opportunities for sustainable economic growth in some of the world’s poorest countries. This foundation allows us now to expand our work not just to help poor countries rise out of poverty and break the cycle of aid dependency but also to create stable trading and investment partners for the United States, which means more jobs here at home.
By incentivizing the right policy conditions and generating an enabling environment for growth, MCC builds a Gateway to Opportunity for American businesses interested in exporting to or doing business in these next generation emerging markets as they climb out of poverty. Because of this, MCC’s mission is key to Secretary of State Clinton’s 21st century economic statecraft and President Obama’s efforts to put in place an American economy that is “built to last.” MCC is pushing the envelope on development effectiveness and sustainability through our commitment to transparency, accountability, results, policy reform, and country-driven solutions.
MCC’s approach has not gone unnoticed. A November 2011 Fortune Magazine article concludes that MCC “certainly gives the taxpayer real bang for the buck.” A recent MarketWatch commentary by Thomas Kostigen arguing for a robust MCC budget sums up the impact best: “MCC deserves its fair share so the U.S. can gain its fair share in the emerging markets. The global impact of these investments comes back to us all in the form of food, jobs, more open markets for trade, and doing good and right by others. It’s a boomerang effect.”
We agree, and we’re committed to showcasing even more investment and procurement opportunities for U.S. businesses in the months ahead to ensure the full “boomerang effect” of positive impact for the world’s poor as well as American businesses and workers.
Posted on March 4, 2010 by Jason Bauer, Director of Private Sector Initiatives
This week more than 167 companies attended a procurement conference and heard about contracting opportunities arising from projects funded by Millennium Challenge Corporation compacts. Supported by Business Unity South Africa, Standard Bank, and the U.S. Embassy, the conference was hosted at the Development Bank of Southern Africa in Midrand, South Africa. Country teams from Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Tanzania discussed over $3 billion in procurement opportunities, ranging from building roads and water systems to building health centers and schools. The compact in Ghana and compacts still being developed with the governments of Malawi and Zambia were also discussed.
The conference highlighted the business opportunities that ultimately support MCC’s mission of reducing poverty through economic growth. The conferences key themes included the openness and transparency of the procurement processes, the ability for international companies to bid on compact projects and the unique opportunities for U.S. and international suppliers.
Companies attending the conference included those focusing on infrastructure engineering, design, and construction, as well as those providing project management and technical assistance. The resounding message: MCC partner countries throughout Africa are open for business.
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