How the Global Health Delivery Program at UGHE Equips Health Leaders for Health Systems Strengthening

It is often stated that a great leader knows how to translate vision into reality, even when the vision seems like a dream. Nevertheless, this feat can only be achieved by leaders with the required leadership and management skills. 

In health care, addressing the complex challenges in global health delivery like managing various stakeholders and working within resource constraints to achieve universal health coverage is a steep climb for even the most accomplished leaders.  

Recognizing that leadership and management skills, which are frequently overlooked in global health education, are critical for equitable healthcare delivery, UGHE in partnership with The Global Fund developed the Global Health Delivery Leadership Program (GHDLP) to fill this void. 

The primary objectives are to build leadership and management skills among Global Fund-supported program implementers in health ministries and non-governmental organizations across priority countries, as well as to provide them with the skills and tools needed to replicate innovations in healthcare delivery to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in their respective countries. 

As a result of this program, the UGHE’s Center for Leadership in Global Health Equity graduated the sixth cohort of the GHDLP recently capping off a hands-on practicum. This milestone not only marks the culmination of six months of hard work and dedication, but it also highlights the profound impact that trained health leaders are making in their respective countries.  

Under the expert guidance of accomplished coaches and instructors, 24 participants from Malawi, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Sierra Leone successfully completed the GHDLP 6.0. 

Through case-based learning and real-world challenges, GHDLP 6.0 participants explored innovative solutions, fostering a profound understanding of how to implement value-based health programs in their communities.  

Key Takeaways from GHDLP 6.0 Graduates

Participants engaged in practical breakthrough projects conducted by country teams, enabling them to acquire the skills and expertise needed to lead and execute global health initiatives for strengthening health systems. Their projects aimed to address the root causes of disease burden, with a recurring theme of maximizing efficiencies in health systems strengthening in their countries.  

Who better to share their experiences in the GHDLP than the trainees themselves? Below, some of them reflect on their capstone projects and their overall experience in the program.  

Dr. Sophia Mashapee, Program Manager – Lesotho  

Throughout this program, I learned the power to influence and drive change. UGHE has transformed me into a dynamic and innovative leader, emphasizing the importance of impactful leadership in global health. This course has not only shaped my career but also honed my skills as a leader. It offers practical, hands-on experience in coordinating and managing effectively, equipping us, global health leaders, with the necessary skills to build resilient health systems in our countries.  

It is essential for other health leaders to partake in such courses. Leadership evolves, and challenges are evolving. Consequently, we need leaders who can effect positive changes for the betterment of our communities.  

Arlerta Ndlela, Grants Management Unit Director – Eswatini  

Arlerta Ndlela, GHDLP 6.0 Participant sharing her experience from the program. 

Participating in this course with support from the Global Fund was invaluable. I looked forward to enhancing my skills in stakeholder engagement, policy influencing, and strategic elements in HIV prevention programs targeting adolescent girls, young women, and key populations which I acquired. This program allowed us to identify bottlenecks in our strategies as leaders, enabling our project proposals to address these challenges effectively. Leadership skills are essential in developing health programs, and this course nurtures those skills.  

Our breakthrough project in Eswatini focused on enhancing the economic empowerment of adolescent girls and young women to mitigate new HIV infections among them. Empowering young people will reduce high-risk behaviors and, consequently, HIV infections.  

Dr. Zikan Korom, National Program Manager Clinical Laboratories and National Coordinator Biobanking & Biosecurity – Sierra Leone  

This program provided top-notch leadership skills, fostering effective collaboration and driving transformative changes. It taught me how to consider diverse perspectives, encouraging teamwork and collaboration. Being a health leader isn’t solely about health—it’s also about understanding the factors influencing health systems. Sierra Leone’s breakthrough project is designed to integrate services to prevent mother-to-child transmission, safeguarding the next generation from constant contamination.  

Reflections from Coaches and Instructors: Why is GHDLP Necessary for Health Leaders?  

The influence of the Global Health Development Leadership Program (GHDLP) transcends personal development. To date, 126 participants from over 30 countries have participated in the program, and their contributions have been instrumental in improving health care delivery within their respective nations.  

Dr. Maria Madison, Interim Dean at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management who delivered a lecture on ‘optimizing equity and the role of emerging technologies in global health,’ recognizes the necessity of programs like this that uniquely integrate leadership skills with expertise in human resources for health, supply chain management and health financing and equity for global health equity.  

She emphasizes, “This program equips health leaders to develop evidence-based interventions, addressing urgent health challenges in their countries while reducing morbidity and mortality rates. They apply the ideas and experiences acquired as a group to address specific urgent health issues they have identified, which is fantastic.”  

Dr. Gregory Jerome, Senior Advisor for Health System Strengthening and Organizational Impact at Partners In Health, reflects on the impact of the GHLDP program as a project coach for the Eswatini team. He says, “GHDLP represents a movement, akin to PIH’s transformative work through UGHE. It’s more than education; it is a transformative experience for these health leaders from diverse health organizations. They gain impactful exposure to successful practices, particularly from Rwanda’s health system and Partners In Health, amplifying their impacts in their respective countries. These leaders are not just learners; they are change-makers, eager to address health challenges in their countries.”  

Looking Ahead: Future Plans for GHDLP  

A country’s health system can only be as robust as the collective actions of its leaders. In the face of challenging global health issues, leaders must become lifelong learners and establish a solid foundation in leadership for health system strengthening.   

UGHE, as a Partners In Health initiative, will continue to support ministries of health, health civil society organizations, and programs by harnessing the potential of health leaders through GHDLP to strengthen healthcare systems, ensuring equitable access to dignified, quality healthcare.