Over 30 public health practitioners from seven countries joined ICAP in Cape Town, last week, to take part in our third annual training course—Introduction to Health Systems Strengthening. Participants came from ministries of health in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Vietnam, and country offices of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and USAID.

ICAP’s four-month course is designed to build their skills and capacities to design, implement, and evaluate health systems strengthening activities in order to enhance the sustainability of HIV programs funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Dr. Janis Timberlake, director for development at PEPFAR, joined this year’s course to showcase PEPFAR’s latest agenda for sustainability, which will advance country ownership for health programs and accelerate efforts to achieve a durable and effective HIV/AIDS response.

“Our course goes beyond a simple review of health system ‘building blocks’,” said course faculty Helen de Pinho, Assistant Professor at Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health. “Cross cutting themes include the need for systems thinking, the interactions between different components of the health system, and the challenge of linking health systems strengthening activities to epidemic control.” Additional topics addressed human resources management, health financing, governance and accountability, and the integration of targeted health programs into broader health systems.

ICAP’s Health Systems Strengthening course is supported by the CDC and is part of a larger portfolio of health systems research and training led by Wafaa El-Sadr, ICAP Director, and Miriam Rabkin, ICAP’s Director for Health Systems Strategies.

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