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.