M.E.R.C. will work with African business schools to build capacity in delivering leadership and management training programs for health workers. This is an innovative program that will build a bridge between the health sector, which urgently needs management and leadership capacity, and local business schools, which can effectively deliver the much needed skills. This will bring management into the context of the health sector and will encourage public-private collaboration at the very highest levels of health systems.
This program will start with an exhaustive survey of business and management schools in Africa. The goal is to evaluate the current capacity of each institution, assess strengths and weaknesses in their offerings, and identify high-impact opportunities that would bridge the gaps between the local supply and demand of management skill. M.E.R.C. will undertake this survey with the guidance and expertise of its International Advisory Board for Health Management and tap into the Global Business School Network (GBSN), for which M.E.R.C. acts as secretariat. M.E.R.C. will also consult with partners at the Association of African Business Schools (AABS) as well as at the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD). M.E.R.C. will then spend time on the ground assessing the faculty, curricula, infrastructure, and resources of each institution. In addition, the survey will look at the school leadership, student body, and alumni, and will engage local private sector leaders, government officials, and other relevant stakeholders. These consultations will lead to a better understanding of the role business and management education plays, the perception of local training institutions, and the gaps local business and management schools fail to address.
The second phase will involve selecting pilot countries and testing the project model. This will include assessing the local landscape, interviewing local stakeholders and creating a national focus group in each pilot country. These focus groups, along with the International Advisory Board, will contribute to the design of the program to ensure local relevance.
The third phase of the project will be implementation. This phase will be carried out in two parts: the first year will focus on establishing and launching the training programs; the second year will focus on ensuring sustainability and long-term impact. The training programs will consist of two courses. The first course, a Leadership Course, will be targeted towards high-level health care professionals drawn from the private sector, local NGO's, and government offices. This will be a two-part course that focuses on collaborative problem solving. Participants will be given the task of responding to real-world problems through case-based exercises and crisis simulations. Additionally, participants will collaborate with each other on a team project to be completed after the first session of the course and will return for the second session to share their experiences, discuss lessons learned, and learn from the work of their colleagues.
The second course will be a six- to eight-week course for mid-level health care professionals. This will lead to a Certificate in Health Management and will focus on business and management skills such as accounting, budgeting, personnel management, strategic planning, and supply-chain analysis. These concepts will also be taught in the context of the health industry, will be based on cases written specifically for the course on the local health sector.
Combined, these courses will offer a wide range of health care professionals an opportunity to acquire the management skills needed to more efficiently administer the nation's health system. By choosing short courses, current professionals will be able to participate while maintaining their professional position within their organization. This approach aims to achieve maximum impact while causing minimal disruption to the limited human resources in the health care delivery system.
Measures of Success:
- Number of schools surveyed
- Number of stakeholders involved
- Number of countries included
- Number of High-impact opportunities identified
- Number stakeholders interviewed
- Focus groups created
- Curriculum developed
- Training programs established and launched
- Case studies written
- Number of participants in high-level leadership course
- Number of participants in mid-level management course
- Course assessment by participants
M.E.R.C. is committed to strengthening global health through improved management and administration of health systems in the developing world. M.E.R.C. has identified business and management schools as unique and powerful tools in building local capacity to support better management of all sectors. The mission of M.E.R.C. is complementary to that of CGI, particularly in the area of strengthening health systems within the broader focus of improving global health.
The mission of M.E.R.C. is to lessen the shortage of management skills in poor countries by strengthening the capacity of local management schools. M.E.R.C. draws upon the innovative Global Business School Network (GBSN) and the Association of African Business Schools (AABS) to link schools in developing countries with mentors from top management schools around the world. The networking approach to development cooperation offers sustainable, low-cost solutions to African capacity-building. This approach has been tested successfully in a number of pilot programs over the last 3 years, notably in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Senegal, with a focus on helping local business schools train problem-solvers. With the success of these pilot programs, the platform is now in place to be scaled to sectors such as health.
Over the past year, M.E.R.C. has been carrying-out preliminary work in order to move into the health management sector. An International Advisory Board for Health Management was established, composed of experts straddling health and management from the U.S., Europe, and Africa. Additionally, M.E.R.C. has worked in partnership with the Gates Foundation in identifying ways to strengthen human resources for health through management and leadership training. With the support of the Gates Foundation, M.E.R.C. convened its International Advisory Board for Health Management along with several additional experts and practitioners in the field of health management for a one-day workshop this past July. The workshop focused on best practices and lessons learned in teaching leadership and management to health professionals; and using Business Schools as a venue for strengthening human resources for health in developing countries.
M.E.R.C.'s next step will be to carry out an exhaustive survey of management education in Africa; updating a survey that was carried out in 2003 and expanding its reach to include a broader range of schools and stakeholders. Such a survey is crucial to understanding the landscape of management education in Africa and identifying partners and program areas best suited to strengthening human resources for health through management and leadership training.
Based on the results of this survey, M.E.R.C.'s future program objective is to embed into local institutions the capacity to run executive management and leadership training programs for public, private and government leaders influencing health policy. Additionally, courses for health managers and administrators will be launched. Such training for health workers will increase the efficiency, productivity, and ultimately the quality and scope of health services in the developing world. Embedding the program at local institutions will result in greater relevance to local issues and ensure long term sustainability. The pilot will be designed to be readily scalable and expandable for use elsewhere, and the network of schools will serve as an effective vehicle for transferring what is learned during the pilot phase
M.E.R.C. is currently seeking funding to carry out this comprehensive survey of African business and management education. In addition to funding, M.E.R.C. will be seeking partners to contribute to the design of the survey, consultants to carry out the field work, and local stakeholders to participate in the process. While M.E.R.C. will draw from its own Advisory Boards, GBSN, and AABS, it will seek individuals, firms, and institutions that might enrich the outcome of this exercise.