UGHE Launches First-Ever Francophone Global Health Delivery Leadership Program

Participants from seven French-speaking nations gathered in Butaro, Rwanda to develop their skills as global health leaders.

Last week, UGHE saw 30 students from a diverse cross-section of African countries pass through its doors for an intensive two-week training on leadership, management, and case-based learning. There was nothing particularly unusual about the influx of Executive Education students on campus; since 2016, in collaboration with The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GF), UGHE has welcomed mid- to senior-level health system leaders from governmental,  non-governmental and civil society organizations to its campus for the Global Health Delivery Leadership Program (GHDLP), a six-month course designed to identify and address key challenges in global health delivery. However, this was the first time in the GHDLP’s history, and that of UGHE’s Exec Ed training, that the program adapted for learners from Francophone Africa.

Launching a Francophone version of the GHDLP had been among UGHE’s priorities for some time. The first to third iterations of the program had presented Anglophone GF-grant recipient countries with opportunities to develop as leaders and effective managers, and contacts at Global Fund expressed interest in offering the same opportunities to individuals in Francophone Africa. Given UGHE’s very name and commitment to global health equity, coupled with Rwanda’s bi-lingual history, UGHE was uniquely suited to offer training in both languages. Seven countries – Congo, Mali, Niger, Central African Republic and Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Chad – were therefore selected, and a team of delegates was recruited from each to form this first cohort of diverse health leaders.

Participants from the Mali delegation arrive for the first day of the GHDLP training.

The GHDLP’s inception can be traced back to a conversation in 2015, when Vice Chancellor Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, former Executive Director Dr. Peter Drobac, and The Global Fund representatives discussed the need for training around the principles of equity-driven, evidence-based delivery within Global Fund grant recipient organizations in Africa. Recognizing the importance of leadership, management, and strategic thinking within health systems, alongside the power of innovative learning methodologies, the Global Fund’s Innovation Hub supported the design of the first GHDLP in late 2016. Two additional Anglophone cohorts have since participated, in 2018 and 2019, and returned to their respective countries to apply their practical skills in managing high-value, equitable health programs.

UGHE Vice Chancellor Prof. Agnes Binagwaho delivers a lecture to the first-ever Francophone GHDLP participants.

The six-month Francophone program, like its predecessors, launched with an initial two-week convening. The convening balanced sessions on personal leadership development, effective team strengthening, and program management with a focus on applying frameworks for effective interventions and designing innovative solutions to complex health care delivery challenges. Facilitators including Dr. Agnes Binagwaho MD, M(Ped), PhD, Dieudonne Hakizimana, MSc, and Dr. Chadi Cortas, MD, MSc, MPH curated capacity-building and case-based sessions that looked at the challenges and success of interventions in varied country contexts. One of the core aims of the program was to learn from the architects and leaders within Rwanda’s health system, and students did this first hand within the field, hearing the unique community-level insights from health workers and nurses within the Burera District. Students spent time outside the classroom walls to hear the perspectives of both patient and provider; a holistic approach to learning seen across all UGHE academic programs helping students empathize and analyze the historical, political, social and economic contexts of those they will go on to serve. Local nurses and community health workers spoke to students about their work with HIV positive patients, discussing their procedures for treatment and referral and their efforts to destigmatize the virus at the community level. Students also met with a group of five young Burera District residents, all of whom were HIV positive, and learned about the lived experiences of patients seeking care in Rwanda’s decentralized health system.

Participants visited with local community health workers to learn about the services they provide to the surrounding Butaro community. 

While program faculty set out to ensure that Francophone learners received the same core content and high-quality training received by Anglophone learners, they also recognized the need to tailor examples and methods to the unique contexts of their Francophone learners. ‘We collect a lot of data in advance about the specific challenges participants are facing in their country, and we share that with the program facilitators’, explains Jenae Logan, Director of Executive Education at UGHE. ‘For instance, we’ll learn that one of Mali’s primary challenges relates to sustaining its supply of preventive drugs for seasonal malaria share with our facilitators who work on similar topics, and shape a more relevant program for students around this’. A few challenges were identified and overcome with the arrival of this new cohort. The terminology previously used for Anglophone learners didn’t translate seamlessly in some cases, and faculty, who had previously taught in English were adapting their resources to the French context. 

During their time in Rwanda, participant country groups identified a key challenge facing their country in day-to-day program delivery and began to design a ‘Breakthrough Project’ to address it. The Breakthrough Project is a six-month group project, supported by a UGHE coach who provides technical support and mentorship. ‘Depending on the areas of support identified, we match each country team with a faculty coach who will guide project development and help identify interventions to address the challenge’ explains Jenae. Though grounded within and a product of the same foundational training, the project proposals presented addressed a varied set of health challenges, tackling issues from TB patient loss to follow-up (Niger) to harmonizing health data management systems (Chad). All, however, were reflective of the groups’ palpable ambition to improve the health and wellbeing within their respective countries. Now begins the implementation phase as participants leave Rwanda to develop their projects before returning in August to present their findings and cement the alumni learning network they laid the foundations for during this initial two-week residential training. 

GHDLP participants work together in groups to discuss their breakthrough projects.

So what’s next for UGHE’s GHDLP? With more Francophone country interest than this offering could accommodate, UGHE will run the program again this November to provide the same training to additional learners from Francophone Africa. The fourth Anglophone cohort is planned to take place in late spring 2020. The impact of the program is already tangible. The evident student ambition, broadening country coverage and future impact this program will have on global health delivery serve to strengthen UGHE’s resolve to grow and nurture this program for the future. 

Learn more about the GHDLP here