Resource Spotlight: Towards Better Leadership and Management in Health Working Paper: Report on an International Consultation on Strengthening Leadership and Management in Low-Income Countries

Making Health Systems Work 10
Making Health Systems Work 10 © WHO

To achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals, many low-income countries need to significantly scale up coverage of priority health services. This will generally require additional national and international resources, but better leadership and management are key to using these resources effectively to achieve measurable results. Good leadership and management are about providing direction and gaining commitment from partners and staff, facilitating change and achieving better health services through efficient, creative and responsible deployment of people and other resources. While leaders set the strategic vision and mobilize the efforts towards its realization, good managers ensure effective organization and utilization of resources to achieve results and meet the aims.

At present, a lack of leadership and management capacity is a constraint, especially at operational levels of both the private and public health sectors. This is sobering, considering the time and money spent by governments and development partners to strengthen capacity in leadership and management. Thus it is clear that these efforts have to be improved. The competencies, roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined and performance changes measured. Progress requires systematic work to determine needs and identify effective interventions; countries to implement an overall plan for developing leadership and management capacity; and international aid to be coherent in support of country plans. Given this context, WHO convened an international consultation on strengthening health leadership and management in low-income countries. The overall purpose of the meeting was to consult in detail on actions required and how these might be achieved.

Adapted from author.

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