UW News

August 3, 2009

Health Alliance International receives $10 million grant to improve primary health care management in Mozambique

In a major effort to strengthen health systems in Mozambique, Seattle-based Health Alliance International (HAI), affiliated with the University of Washington Department of Global Health, received a seven-year $10 million grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to work with the Mozambican government in strengthening primary health care in a region hard hit by the AIDS epidemic, poverty and other challenges.

The project aims to improve delivery of health care by giving key health managers the skills to identify and fix problems in the quality and efficiency of services.

Just as companies are looking at more efficient ways to develop and deliver products, countries are applying some of the same practices to primary health care. These practices can help answer questions such as, what is the best mix of doctors, nurses and other health staff to provide the best care at a clinic given patient volume and needs? How can the medication supply be managed to ensure that pharmacies are neither under- nor over-stocked, causing patients to lack medicines or drugs to go to waste?

“Good management is essential to saving lives,” said Dr. Kenny Sherr, HAI’s director of implementation science and clinical assistant professor in the UW Department of Global Health. “Usually people think about the need for clinical staff to treat patients, but this grant is exciting because it will empower managers at the district level on up to see the big picture of how services are being delivered and where resources need to go.”

The project will focus on Sofala Province in central Mozambique, a region with more than 1.6 million people — most living without running water and electricity — and only 40 doctors.

Health Alliance International, the Mozambican Ministry of Health and other partner organizations will work with management teams at 140 government-run health facilities throughout the province to increase their ability to collect, manage and use health system data to improve services.

Other partners also include University of Washington’s Department of Global Health and Department of Industrial Engineering and Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique.

The project will focus on three main activities to build management capabilities: 1) Training and mentoring district-level management staff; 2) Improving information management systems to collect clinic data and developing simple tools to improve the use of these data for management purposes; and 3) Helping managers to develop and conduct operations research, including program evaluation, to measure how management changes impact health care and improve patients’ health.

HAI is one of four organizations to receive a multimillion-dollar grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s African Health Initiative, out of more than 100 initial applicants. The African Health Initiative seeks to strengthen health systems by supporting partnerships that link implementation research and workforce training directly to the large-scale delivery of integrated primary health care in sub-Saharan Africa.