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Enhancing the Management Capabilities of Ministries of Health to Reduce Maternal Mortality

By Kathy Korsen, Director, Learning & Development and MSD for Mothers Ambassador

August 1, 2016

As a MSD for Mothers Ambassador, I am always looking for ways where I can personally make a difference in the important work that our company is focused on to improve the health and well-being of mothers during pregnancy and childbirth.

It was the end of 2014, and I was getting ready to look through a list of volunteer activities to get involved in for 2015, when I learned about an opportunity to take on an important assignment through my current role on MSD’s Learning & Development team. A program, initially led by the MDG (Millennium Development Goals) Health Alliance, was being established to reduce child and maternal mortality by enhancing management capabilities of Ministries of Health though one- to two-year “fellowship” type of engagements in which corporate fellows are teamed up with health leaders to coach them on management best practices. The MSD for Mothers leadership team saw an opportunity for MSD to be involved, and I became a part of the team!

Throughout 2015, I was working with a diverse set of stakeholders from private sector companies, nonprofits, on-the-ground-implementers, and Ministries of Health to design and develop the first multi-sectorial partnership of its kind focused on strengthening community health systems through building leadership and management capacity in the Ministries of Health of low- and middle-income countries. My role was important in bringing in an overall external perspective to the team and offering recommendations on established leadership development options for consideration.    

In late 2015, the program was kicked-off in the first two countries – Malawi and Kenya. There, we now have three Management Partners who are working with the local Ministry of Health teams. The plan is to also launch soon in Rwanda and Sierra Leone, with the long-term goal of being in ten countries over the next few years. It is so rewarding and energizing to see the progress that has been made!   

So, when you see an opportunity to get involved, take it!  Your impact can be broad-reaching and you can make a valuable difference in so many ways!     


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Kathy Korsen, Director, Learning & Development and MSD for Mothers Ambassador

Kathy Korsen is a Learning Lead for MSD’s Enabling Areas, including MSD for Mothers, as well as a MSD for Mothers Ambassador.


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