Be ‘Remarkable’ Kenyan First Lady Exhorts Harvard Forum Participants

Speaking to participants in the seventh annual Harvard Ministerial Leadership Forum in early June, Margaret Kenyatta, First Lady of Kenya, outlined the impressive results of her groundbreaking Beyond Zero campaign: In Kenya, over the past five years, infant mortality has fallen from 52 per 1,000 to 39 per 1,000 live births; under five mortality came down from 74 per 1,000 to 52 per 1,000. Maternal mortality dropped from 488 per 100,000 to 362 per 1,000.

While the First Lady acknowledges that there is still much work to do, this impressive track record is the result of imaginative effort and tireless leadership. by the First Lady galvanizing government and civil society, engaging the private sector in supportive ways, and most importantly mobilizing public awareness and engagement in the campaign. Kenyans are known globally for their extraordinary marathon running talent. Five years ago the First Lady had never run a marathon, but as she reflected on how to energize the Kenyan public in support of Beyond Zero she decided an annual marathon would be the perfect vehicle. Since then, more than 100,000 Kenyans have joined the First Lady in an annual marathon which is part fundraiser, but mainly a major opportunity to elevate public awareness of maternal and under-five mortality, as well as the disproportionate rate of HIV-infection among young women.

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Prioritizing Budgets for Social Impact

Finance and economic development ministers from nations in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia recently gathered at Harvard for the annual Harvard Ministerial Leadership Forum, an intensive four-day program focused on ways that they can use their positions to accomplish policy and investment goals in human development. This year’s program featured a talk moderated by Harvard Chan School Dean Michelle Williams, focused on effective leadership in government. Keynote discussant H.E. Jakaya Kikwete, former president of Tanzania, was joined by Sir Michael Barber and Idris Jala, who formerly worked for the prime ministers of the UK and Malaysia, respectively.

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Harvard’s Follow-Up Support in Uganda Leads Increases Fiscal Space for Health

Following participation in the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Forums by Uganda’s Ministers of Finance and Health, a Follow-up team of senior health and finance ministry officials began work with the Ministerial Program and its partners. A key focus of this work was the need to reallocate existing budget to priority health areas such as primary health care and capture fiscal space to increase available health funding. By June 2016, the inter-ministerial team had created fiscal space in the health budget to the value of over $22 million for a range of actions designed to strengthen health worker productivity, procurement and supply chain management with the goal of improving the standard of care in frontline health facilities. Continue reading

Celebrated Reproductive Health Expert Joins Advisory Board

Dr. Senait Fisseha, MD, JD, Director of International Programs for the Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation and Clinical Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Michigan Medical School, has been appointed to the Advisory Board of the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program. As the founding executive director of the University of Michigan’s Center for International Reproductive Health Training, Dr. Fisseha has spent her career leading groundbreaking research and training programs to improve reproductive health care in Ethiopia. Continue reading

Announcing the Harvard Ministerial Doctoral Fellowship

Denizhan Duran has been selected as the first Harvard Ministerial Doctoral Fellow. A graduate of Middlebury College, Denizhan is currently enrolled as a Doctor of Public Health student at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Through previous positions at the World Bank, World Health Organization, Clinton Health Access Initiative, and the Center for Global Development, Denizhan has experience working in Côte D’Ivoire, Ghana, Ethiopia and Malawi. For the purpose of this Fellowship, Denizhan will work with the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program and the Côte D’Ivoire Ministries of Health and Finance to conduct research to develop policy recommendations on how Côte D’Ivoire can increase fiscal space for health through budget reprioritization and taxation analyses. Continue reading

Ramping Up Technical Assistance: Ministerial Program Launches Innovative Virtual Platform

Since inception in 2012, the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program has included a (post-Harvard) in-country Follow-up component designed to support participating Ministers in achieving their primary (legacy) goals by providing planning and implementation management capacity to senior officials. Over the past seven years, 21 countries and 272 officials have participated in the Follow-up component. Although a significant number of countries benefitted, the Follow-up was highly selective only inviting four or five countries annually. Furthermore, after seven years, it is evident that the Ministerial Program does not have the capacity to sustain this effort at the intensity needed to make a lasting impact. Continue reading

Distinguished Former Ethiopian Finance Minister Joins Advisory Board

Sufian Ahmed Beker, former Ethiopian Minister of Finance has been appointed to the Advisory Board of the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program. Mr. Ahmed served as Finance Minister from 1995 to 2016 making him the longest serving finance minister in history. He is widely acclaimed as the architect of Ethiopia’s impressive economic progress over the past 20 years. Sufian Ahmed is currently Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Macro-Economic Development. Continue reading

To Achieve Ambitious Goals in Government: Fix the Basics First

There is no “school for government Ministers” and most are put in positions for which they have no training or experience. Ministers are appointed at the behest of the head of government and their longevity in office is largely determined by the Ministers’ ability “to read the mind” and do things that “will endear them to the President.”

This was the theme echoed by two of Africa’s most experienced and longest serving high-level government leaders talking recently with participants in the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program. Continue reading