Author Archives: Michele Alexander

Recap: Day 7 – Saturday, February 21

Before heading back to the cold and snow in Washington, DC, the delegates spent their final day in Zambia visiting Chilenje Clinic and the Lilayi Elephant Nursery.

At Chilenje Clinic, located in Lusaka, the delegates learned about key challenges in health equity and service delivery. As they toured the urban clinic, the delegates learned how staff and Zambian health workers work to address these challenges through improvements in pharmaceutical management, quality assurance and capacity building.

Baby elephants (calves) the delegates got to see at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery. Photo credits: Brigid Boettler/MSH.

Baby elephants (calves) the delegates got to see at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery. Photo credits: Brigid Boettler/MSH.

For the last site visit of the study tour, delegates traveled to the Lilayi Elephant Nursery in Lusaka. There, they received a briefing on key environmental issues faced by rural communities and learned how Game Rangers International (GRI), a local wildlife NGO, engages in interdisciplinary capacity building by investing in rural community health efforts. Lilayi Elephant Nursery is home to the youngest members of GRI’s rescued elephant calves. While at Lilayi, the calves receive the dedicated care they need to get through the vital, vulnerable early months and years of rehabilitation they need before they can be released into their new home in Kafue National Park.

After Chilenje Clinic and the Lilayi Elephant Nursery, the delegates reflected on trip experiences, key trends they observed, and the lessons learned from their week in South Africa and Zambia before packing up and departing for home.

Recap: Day 6 – Friday, February 20

The delegates started their second day in Lusaka bright and early with a breakfast discussion with representatives from Zambian non-governmental organizations. The delegates learned about the work of local organizations in improving and expanding access to quality health services in Zambia.

Following the breakfast meeting, the delegates received a quick site visit briefing before departing for Liteta Hospital in Chibombo District, located in Zambia’s Central Province. Chimbobo District is one of Zambia’s largest districts and is about an hour outside of Lusaka. The delegates toured Liteta Hospital, where they got to see a rural, district-level hospital firsthand. While there, they learned about key challenges in health equity and service delivery at the district-level. The hospital staff shared how they address these challenges through improvements in pharmaceutical management, quality assurance, and capacity building of laboratories.

While in Central Province, the delegates also visited Medical Stores, Ltd. (MSL) before returning to Lusaka. The delegates toured the MSL facilities and learned about US-funded pharmaceutical strengthening efforts, from strengthening internal quality control practices to implementing standard operating procedures and improving patient access to essential medicines.

The delegates spent their last evening in Zambia meeting with the National HIV/AIDS/STI/TB Council (NAC) over dinner. NAC is a broad-based corporate body in Zambia comprised of government, private sector, and civil society representatives. The delegates learned how NAC coordinates, monitors, and evaluates inputs, outputs, and the impact of HIV/AIDS, STI, and TB programs and interventions in Zambia.

Stay tuned for our final recap as the delegates visit Chilenje Clinic and the Lilayi Elephant Nursery in Lusaka before departing Zambia to return to Washington, DC.

Recap: Day 4 – Wednesday, February 18

The delegates spent their last day in South Africa gaining a better understanding of capacity building and community development from a national level. While in Pretoria, delegates started their day with a briefing with US Embassy and USAID Mission staff. During this interagency briefing, delegates learned how different US government agencies coordinate and engage in South Africa’s health and development.

After meeting with Embassy and USAID staff, the delegates traveled to the National Department of Health to meet with Chief Director Gavin Steel and Deputy Director General Terrance Carter. Steel and Carter updated the delegates on the National Department of Health’s 2030 plan, which includes creating a national health plan; increasing life expectancy; reducing maternal, newborn and child morbidity; addressing non-communicable diseases; and reducing accidents and violence. Delegates also learned how the National Department of Health is addressing health systems strengthening and donor partnerships and investments.

The delegates’ final day in South Africa concluded with a Public Private Partnership Reception. During this reception, delegates conversed with public and private sector leaders and implementers and celebrated the importance of interdisciplinary and multisectoral partnerships for health and development.

Clockwise from top left: MSH Country Representative Bada Pharasi opens the reception; guests engage in conversation; delegates and US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Catherine Hill-Herndon. Photo credits: Johanna Theunissen & Bright Phiri/MSH.

Clockwise from top left: MSH Country Representative Bada Pharasi opens the reception; guests engage in conversation; delegates and US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Catherine Hill-Herndon. Photo credits: Johanna Theunissen & Bright Phiri/MSH.

MSH Country Representative Bada Pharasi, delegates and MSH Policy & Advocacy Director Crystal Lander. Photo credit: Johanna Theunissen/MSH.

MSH Country Representative Bada Pharasi, delegates and MSH Policy & Advocacy Director Crystal Lander. Photo credit: Johanna Theunissen/MSH.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s update as the delegates head to Lusaka, Zambia for the remainder of the study tour!

Recap: Day 3 – Tuesday, February 17

While colleagues back home in Washington, DC were snowed in, the delegates visited more sites in Limpopo province, from the South Africa-Zimbabwe border to Vhembe and back to Polokwane, before returning to Pretoria.

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Truck stop on South Africa-Zimbabwe border where the Trucking Wellness Center is located. Photo credit: Bright Phiri/MSH.

The day started with a visit to a Trucking Wellness Center, which is supported by the Corridor Empowerment Project, at a truck stop on the South Africa-Zimbabwe border. Southern Africa has a long history of cross-border migration and internal migration. People migrate for political, social, and economic reasons. Highly mobile workers include cross-border traders and truck drivers, among many others. Although data on HIV prevalence among mobile workers and migrant populations is scarce, existing data shows that HIV prevalence among these populations is considerably higher than in national adult populations. Migrants and mobile communities are therefore identified as one of the priority populations needing targeted HIV prevention interventions. As they toured the Trucking Wellness Center, delegates learned how civil society organizations in the Migration Corridor use US funding to provide vital health services to long-distance truck drivers, female sex workers, and border communities. By bringing health services to the truck stop, larger populations can be reached to have a greater impact.

After visiting the Trucking Wellness Center, the delegates traveled to Vhembe in Limpopo to visit the Tshikuwi Clinic. There, they learned about pharmaceutical management at the local level as they viewed the primary healthcare clinic’s pharmacy and met with the clinic’s Community Service Pharmacist (CSP) and her mentor to discuss the clinic’s stock management challenges and the strategies they implement to improve management capacity.

Delegates and staff from the Tshikuwi Clinic in Vhembe, South Africa. Photo credit: Bright Phiri/MSH.

Delegates and staff from the Tshikuwi Clinic in Vhembe, South Africa. Photo credit: Bright Phiri/MSH.

Before returning to Pretoria for the night, the delegates visited a loveLife Support Site with MSH

loveLife peer counselors brief delegates at the loveLife support site. Photo credit: Bright Phiri/MSH.

loveLife peer counselors brief delegates at the loveLife support site. Photo credit: Bright Phiri/MSH.

staff from the USAID-funded Building Local Capacity for the Delivery of HIV Services in Southern Africa (BLC) project. loveLife is South Africa’s largest national HIV prevention initiative for young people. It combines a sustained high-powered campaign with nationwide community-level outreach and support programs to promote healthy, HIV-free living among South African teens. At loveLife, delegates met with organization leaders and peer counselors to learn how loveLife provides leadership development and educational opportunities for youth capacity in the Migration Corridor.

Recap: Day 2 – Monday, February 16

The delegates departed Pretoria bright and early on Monday to drive to Limpopo, South Africa’s northern-most province which shares its border with Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

During the drive to Limpopo, delegates received a briefing with MSH staff from the USAID-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) project on the innovative RxSolution pharmaceutical management system. RxSolution enables integrated stock management and ensures patients have access to essential medicines in South Africa.

Delegates learn about pharmaceutical management at Mokopane Hospital from the Pharmaceutical Manager. Photo credit: Bright Phiri/MSH.

Delegates learn about pharmaceutical management at Mokopane Hospital from the Pharmaceutical Manager. Photo credit: Bright Phiri/MSH.

Once in Limpopo, the first stop was a site visit to Mokopane Hospital in the town of Mokopane. There, delegates learned about pharmaceutical management at the regional level as they toured the hospital pharmacy and met with the Pharmaceutical Manager. The Manager discussed the hospital’s implementation of RxSolution through the Pharmaceutical Leadership Development Programme (PLDP).

After visiting Mokopane Hospital, the delegates learned about pharmaceutical management at the provincial level as they toured the Limpopo Pharmaceutical Depot in Polokwane, Limpopo province’s capitol city. There, they met with depot managerial and local government staff to discuss challenges and innovative strategies for building pharmaceutical capacity, including PLDP and the Community Service Pharmacist Program (CSP).

Delegates, MSH staff, and staff from the Limpopo Pharmaceutical Depot. Photo credit: Bright Phiri/MSH.

Delegates, MSH staff, and staff from the Limpopo Pharmaceutical Depot. Photo credit: Bright Phiri/MSH.

The day concluded with an intimate dinner and discussion with local implementers in Musina, the northern-most town in Limpopo province. Delegates discussed the progress made and challenges faced in strengthening delivery of and improving access to prevention, care, treatment, and support services for vulnerable populations with local civil society organization leaders.

Recap: Day 1 – Sunday, February 15

After arriving in Pretoria late on Saturday night, the study tour officially kicked off on Sunday with a welcome breakfast and briefing on the week. In the evening, the delegates met with local US government health officials to discuss the big picture of health and local capacity building efforts in South Africa.

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The delegates and MSH staff after the opening briefing – looking forward to busy and productive week examining local capacity building, health systems strengthening, and pharmaceutical management. Photo credit: MSH.

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Delegates, MSH staff, and local US government health officials after an evening discussing the big picture of health and local capacity building efforts in South Africa. Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH.