The Abt-led Health Finance and Governance project is providing leadership and management trainings, among others, so that local officials are ready for new responsibilities under the country’s decentralization reforms.
In 2006, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) adopted a new constitution with several significant decentralization reforms, including giving provinces more power over the health sector and downsizing the central government’s role in it.
But these changes do not implement themselves. Details must be resolved about the new roles of government staff, for example.
The Health Finance and Governance (HFG) project, led by Abt Associates and funded by USAID, is bringing transparency and consistency to these decentralization reforms through training, strategic planning, and other efforts. The HFG project applies cross-cutting strategies — including capacity building, gender empowerment, and technical assistance — to build resiliency and reach key populations, such as women and children. The HFG project operates in approximately 40 countries.
Better Management, Better Services
A participant in a course on decentralization that organized in part by the HFG project (right) is congratulated by USAID Health Bureau Deputy Director Debbie Gueye (third from left), Director of the Human Resource Directorate Epiphane Ngumbu (second from left), and Minister of Higher Education Theophile Mbemba Fundu (left). At the central level, HFG’s focus is the institutional strengthening of two central directorates within the Ministry of Public Health: the Directorate of General Services and Human Resources and the new General Directorate of Organization and Management of Healthcare Services.
HFG assistance includes a number of leadership and management trainings, clarification of roles and responsibilities under the new structure, strategic and operational planning, strengthening teamwork, and modest information and communications technology support.
“It is so satisfying to see change in people who were previously accustomed to working in a culture of ineffective management, with few rules or guidelines,” said Jocelyne Nkongolo, chief of party for HFG’s DRC program. “This is what we are engaged in with the two central directorates within the Ministry of Health.”
Additionally, HFG helped support the very first international course on DRC health sector decentralization. The course was led by KSPH faculty with the support of Thomas Bossert, Ph.D., a decentralization expert from Harvard University. The course‘s objective was to improve understanding of key decentralization principles by central and provincial levels of decentralization in order to guide decision making and strengthen implementation. The first session, held in May 2016, trained more than 80 participants, including central directors, heads of provincial divisions of health, and provincial medical inspectors.
A second iteration of the course is scheduled in May and targets provincial ministry of health staff, special programs directors and provincial health inspectors.
DRC’s Health Leaders of Tomorrow
The HFG project also supports the Kinshasa School of Public Health (KSPH) – strengthening its financial management system so that it can receive funding directly from USAID – and financially supporting a scholarship program. So far the project has supported 30 masters students and three Ph.D. students.
“KSPH is the premier institution in DRC for training public health professionals, many of whom become managers at different levels of the health system, with some becoming national public health leaders,” Nkongolo said.
Learn more about the HFG project, PMI AIRS work in DRC, and our health services delivery support in Nigeria and Zambia.