Recap: February 17 – Uganda

On Monday, February 17, the group traveled to the Ministry of Health and met with Ugandan Minister of Health Ruhakana Rugunda and his Director General. The government is happy to see interest in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as Dr. Rugunda explained that they are becoming a “new mountain emerging in health.” Uganda is a country balancing malnutrition and obesity. The Minister stated that the government’s number one goal is the promotion of health while noting that the benefit of getting older is more and different health problems.

After their meeting at the ministry, the group visited the Uganda Cancer Institute, touring the facilities and meeting with the institute director to understand how cancer and other NCDs are being addressed in Uganda. The Uganda Cancer Institute has a long history in Uganda, founded in 1967 and helps Uganda in leading the way in addressing cancer in children in Africa.

Following the Uganda Cancer Institute, the group toured and received a briefing at the Joint Clinical Research Center (JCRC) to see how government investments in diverse partnerships can advance clinical research and achieve specific health goals that produce broad results. The JCRC provides health services but also works to advocate for strong health policies at the World Health Organization.

The day concluded with a lively dinner discussion with the local health leaders the delegates met during the three site visits.

The group poses for a picture with the institute staff outside the Uganda Cancer Institute. Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH.

The group poses for a picture with the institute staff outside the Uganda Cancer Institute’s new building. The building is greatly needed to meet the growing demand for services. Photo credit: Loyce Pace Bass/LIVESTRONG Foundation.

Participants take a tour and learn more about clinical research at the Joint Clinical Research Center. Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH.

Delegates take a tour and learn more about clinical research at the Joint Clinical Research Center. Photo credit: Loyce Pace Bass/LIVESTRONG Foundation.

A study tour participant and the Ugandan Minister of Health, Ruhakana Rugunda, engage in lively discussion during the Local Health Leaders roundtable dinner. Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH.

A study tour delegate and the Ugandan Minister of Health, Ruhakana Rugunda, engage in lively discussion during the Local Health Leaders roundtable dinner. Photo credit: Loyce Pace Bass/LIVESTRONG Foundation.

A study tour participant thanks US Ambassador to Uganda Scott DeLisi during the Local Health Leaders dinner. Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH.

A study tour delegate thanks US Ambassador to Uganda Scott DeLisi for his remarks during the Local Health Leaders dinner. Photo credit: Loyce Pace Bass/LIVESTRONG Foundation.

Recap: February 16 – Uganda

The study tour kicked off in Uganda on February 16 with a welcome and operational briefing from the study tour coordinators and MSH Uganda Country Representative Stephen Lwanga. After the welcome, the group traveled to Jinja, the site of the source of the Nile river. The day concluded with “Health in Uganda: Dinner and Discussion,” a panel discussion on the big picture of health in Uganda and how resources are being leveraged to address NCDs.

MSH Country Representative Stephen Lwanga welcomes the study tour group. Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH.

Study tour participants pose at a memorial to Mahatma Ghandi at Jinja, the source of the Nile river.

Study tour delegates pose at a memorial to Mahatma Ghandi at Jinja, the source of the Nile river. Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH.

Health in Uganda panelists discuss the big picture of health in Uganda.

Health in Uganda panelists Gerald Mutungi (far left) and Edward Ssemafumu (middle) discuss the big picture of health in Uganda. Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH.

Loyce Pace Bass from the LIVESTRONG Foundation gives Health in Uganda panelist Gerald Mutungi a thank you bag.

Loyce Pace Bass from the LIVESTRONG Foundation thanks Ugandan Ministry of Health NCDs Director Gerald Mutungi. Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH.

A study tour participant thanks Health in Uganda panelist Edward Ssemafumu.

A study tour delegate thanks Uganda STAR-E Project Director Edward Ssemafumu. Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH.

On the Road to Rwanda and Remembering Why We Fight

By: Loyce Pace Bass, LIVESTRONG Foundation
Cross-posted from the LIVESTRONG Foundation Blog.

Often times I miss being in the trenches of the fight against cancer. Back before I
joined LIVESTRONG’s team to lead on health policy, I interacted on a daily basis
with survivors and their families, healthcare providers, and volunteer advocates all
over the world about the issues they were facing. I heard firsthand what mattered
most to them and why. It’s actually one of the reasons I was ultimately driven to
work in policy. It got to the point where I felt I could do more at a higher level rather
than continue to focus on battles one-by-one. However, I’m starting to experience
what people warned me about when I left the field: a looming sense of
disconnection from what’s really happening on the ground, and the need to get
back out there and reconnect with the people we serve. So, that’s what I’m off to do
now.

A lot has changed since I’ve started at the foundation. In the US, people affected by
cancer celebrate expanded access to healthcare but are also in need of better
engagement and information in support of their cancer journey during treatment
and beyond. And survivors globally await the promise of changes in their countries
as a result of recent agreement by the world’s leaders on how to address cancer
and other chronic diseases. At last count, there are over 32 million cancer survivors
worldwide, many of whom still require basic education, programs, and services that
adequately improve their quality of life. Thankfully, more stakeholders – across
universities, community organizations, government agencies, private donors, and
corporations – are responding to the call by raising awareness and taking action.

Many of these early champions have taken it upon themselves to fill persistent gaps
in the global healthcare system. They see changes on the horizon but are impatient
optimists, determined to identify and implement solutions for survivors today. These
innovators have found creative ways to rise to the challenge and do more with less,
at least until everyone else catches on. One such group is Partners in Health,
implementing programs in Haiti, Rwanda, and elsewhere that demonstrate what’s
possible. We’ve recently renewed our support for their work with a new partnership
in Africa, and I look forward to seeing efforts in-person next week. Rumor has it I
might even get to meet Francine, a living testament to the impact of this initiative
and an assured reminder of the one-on-one interactions I’ve been missing.

Loyce Pace Bass is the Director of Health Policy at the LIVESTRONG Foundation. Stay tuned for updates throughout the week on Loyce’s travels and dialogue with our Africa partners.

Feb 2014 Congressional Study Tour: An Integrated Approach to Addressing an Emerging Global Health Challenge

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and the LIVESTRONG Foundation (LIVESTRONG) are proud to sponsor a Congressional staff study tour to Uganda and Rwanda examining the key elements of the countries’ health systems with a particular focus on how the countries are addressing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) also known as chronic diseases.  Strong health systems are the most sustainable way of improving health and saving lives at large scale. For a health system to address the needs of its people it must:

  • Act in a coordinated and integrated way so as to reach people who may otherwise go undetected.
  • Deliver integrated care including all players in the health system—government ministries, pharmacists, healers, health workers, and community health workers.
  • Be administered responsibility so to ensure quality care that is both physically and financially accessible.
  • Have strong information systems and an educated health workforce.
  • Support local public and private-sector healthcare providers.

C-NCDs, also considered “the silent killer”, pose a significant threat to global health and development. In fact, chronic diseases, including cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and chronic lung diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, surpassing deaths from HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Of the 36 million annual chronic disease deaths, 80 percent occur in low- and middle-income countries. Eight million of these deaths are preventable through changes in lifestyle and access to quality, affordable health services. Left unchecked, chronic diseases will be the leading cause of disability by 2030 and will lead to lost economic productivity and higher health care costs.  MSH and LIVESTRONG believe by building high-impact, sustainable, locally-owned health systems, societies are healthier and countries are able to address emerging or future global health challenges.

“Addressing NCDs is critical for global public health, but it will also be good for the economy; for the environment; for the global public good in the broadest sense…If we come together to tackle NCDs, we can do more than heal individuals – we can safeguard our very future…According to the World Health Organization, deaths from NCDs will increase by 17% in the next decade. In Africa, that number will jump by 24%…The burden of NCDs will increase in low income countries like Rwanda as development gains eliminate avoidable child and maternal deaths.”

-UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon in his remarks to the UNGA in 2011

 “An important byproduct of this massive effort on HIV/AIDS has been the improvement of African health systems. PEPFAR and other programs have helped raise professional standards and improve infrastructure. This has raised an exciting prospect: to extend the gains on AIDS to other diseases. It is heart-wrenching to save a woman from AIDS, only to watch her die from cervical cancer, which is more prevalent in women with HIV… it is heartening to know that those diagnosed with early signs of cancer will have access to treatment and a good chance of beating it…To continue the momentum in the fight against AIDS, America must continue to lead. Having seen the need and accepted the challenge, we can’t turn our backs now.”

– George W. Bush, excerpt from Washington Post op-ed on the AIDS 2012 Conference