What Is Management Sciences for Health?

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) has one mission: to save lives and improve health of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable by closing the gap between knowledge and action in public health. This global health non-profit organization uses proven approaches to help leaders, health managers, and communities in developing countries create stronger health systems for a greater health impact. Since its founding in 1971, MSH has left its mark in over 150 countries working with policy makers, health care consumers, and health professionals to improve the overall availability, affordability and quality of health services.

The work of MSH is centered on four core beliefs and values: effective local leaders and local institutions are key to creating lasting health impact; health is a basic human right, realized through healthy living conditions and access to health care for all; healthy people and communities are more able to contribute to economic growth and political stability; and better evidence to scale up current methods and technologies will fuel widespread health impact.

Since it’s founding, MSH’s operations have been based on the 3,500 year old Tao (Way) of Leadership, working shoulder-to-shoulder with local partners and colleagues and empowering them to succeed. In the 1960s, MSH’s founder Dr. Ron O’Connor, was taught the principles of the Tao of Leadership by Dr. Noobora Iwamura, a mentor and friend. Dr. Iwamura, as the only survivor of his high school class in the Hiroshima bombing, decided to lead a life of service in the remote, rural areas of Nepal. Through his work he discovered that creating sustainable changes meant much more than medical care on its own: it meant engaging communities actively in their own health needs.

The mission and work of MSH is based on Dr. Iwamura’s concern that communities be empowered with the knowledge of solutions to basic health problems and challenged to take control of their own health. These values are resonated today in MSH’s staff of over 2,400 based in over 65 countries. MSH focuses its efforts on strengthening health systems in the priority health areas: HIV & AIDS; tuberculosis; family planning and reproductive health; maternal, newborn, and child health; malaria and other communicable diseases; and chronic diseases.

In the organizations’ 2012 Annual Report, MSH outlined universal health coverage (UHC) as the framework for maximizing health impact. More than 50 countries have achieved universal health coverage, with an additional 50 countries working towards the same goal. MSH is contributing to this UHC movement through its coordination with local communities to develop health system innovations, such as the scaling up of community health shops, and by directly building local ability to deliver health services through training health workers and staff. There is much work to be done, but MSH is pushing to make effective healthcare available to anyone in need.

– Ali Warlich

Sources: MSH,WHO