208550 Capacity-building in the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health: Creating ownership to ensure success

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ziad Abdallah , Palestinian Health Sector Reform and Development (Flagship) Project, Chemonics International Inc., Ramallah, Palestine
Maha El-Sheikh , USAID Palestinian Health Sector Reform and Development Project (The Flagship Project), Chemonics International, Ramallah, Palestine
Since its formation in 1995, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has progressed significantly in ensuring the health of its population. However, an eight-year intifada and continuous changes among Ministry of Health (MoH) staff have slowed reform in the PA. Furthermore, the Gaza/West Bank separation resulted in a fragmented MoH, making communication and coordination a major challenge. Considerable improvements have been made in primary health care, but issues such as treatment of chronic disease, costly referrals abroad, a weak health insurance system, and high dependence on donor funding remain.

USAID responded to these challenges by awarding a large health project in 2008—the Palestinian Health Sector Reform and Development Project. As a first step, the project supported the MoH in conducting a structured self-assessment to formally identify and prioritize gaps in governance, health finance, health information systems, health service delivery, pharmaceutical management, and human resources, and to create ownership of assessment findings and solutions. The assessment process and resulting report were built around the concepts of equity, quality, transparency and openness, and served as the basis for the development of an Institutional Development Plan that identified specific interventions to be undertaken over the next five years. Interventions were organized under the Ministry's regulatory, service provision, and donor coordination mandates and were linked to the MoH three-year National Strategic Health Plan. The self assessment and Institutional Development Plan processes resulted in a sense of ownership, optimism and enthusiasm for carrying the plan forward by the Ministry, while remaining flexible to address emerging needs as they arise.

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain the unique challenges faced by the Palestinian Authority in delivering quality health care. 2. Describe the benefits of utilizing a highly participatory assessment and intervention design process. 3. List the major gaps in the current healthcare system that will be addressed by the Flagship Project.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Ziad Abdallah is an organizational development specialist with over 20 years of professional experience in the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan and Iraq. He has been actively engaged in education and development work with various UN, international, and local organizations. He also served in different capacities on several USAID-funded projects including Manager of the Democracy Understanding and Development Program, civil society specialist and later director of field operations (managing the project's grant-making portfolio) of the Civil Society and Democracy Strengthening Project, and senior civil society advisor for the Iraq Sub-National Governance and Civic Institution Support Program (LGP). Recently, he has been working with the USAID-funded Supporting Rule of Law Reform Project (Arkan), leading the legal education component. Arkan has been a three-year activity aimed at strengthening Palestinian legal education and the legal profession, promoting active participation of Palestinians in legal and judicial reform initiatives, and raising the public’s awareness of rule of law. In addition, Mr. Abdallah is an adjunct instructor of Philosophy and Cultural Studies at BZU School of Arts, and a founder and Board Member of the CSO Ma'an Development Center in the West Bank and Gaza. Moreover, he has written and edited numerous publications in development and civil society issues. He holds an MSc in sociology from Iowa State University and a BA in Sociology from Birzeit University.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.