Kate Steger, MA, MPH is a Communications and Knowledge Exchange Coordinator for the Kenya Leadership, Management and Sustainability Program at Management Sciences for Health

Earlier this year, USAID supported the launch of the Leading High-Performing Healthcare Organizations program (LeHHO) for senior health leaders in Kenya.  Offered at Nairobi’s Strathmore Business School, the program is the result of a successful partnership between Strathmore and USAID’s Leadership, Management and Sustainability (LMS) project in Kenya.

Kenyatta National Hospital Chief Nurse Philomena Maina (center) receives her LeHHO certificate from Strathmore Business School Dean Edward Mungai (left) and Academic Director Joan Mansour of MSH (right). Photo Credit: MSH

A leadership development specialist from Management Sciences for Health, which implements the LMS project, worked with Strathmore Business School faculty to integrate key components of leadership development for the health sector with Strathmore’s business education model. The result: an ongoing six-month course that combines executive health systems education with applied leadership training, offered exclusively to the health sector’s most senior leaders.

Program participants expand the depth and breadth of their knowledge with modules on the healthcare environment, improving organizational performance, healthcare systems management, and managing change. At the same time, they are asked to choose a specific current challenge in their organization and set a goal for overcoming that challenge. At the recent graduation ceremony for the first cohort, participants boasted accomplishments that promise to have widespread and lasting effects on the health of Kenyans.

Dr. John Kibosia of Kenya’s Prison Medical Services is one new graduate.  He has been working with Kenya’s government and partners for the last five years to reduce TB and HIV/AIDS in prisons around the country.  During the LeHHO program, he and deputy director Dr. Charles Isiaho chose to work on reducing the security risks and expense caused by referring prisoners to health facilities outside prison premises. After conducting a five-prison assessment, they identified the main causes of referrals as minor illnesses, injuries, and dental problems. They were then able to deploy qualified health personnel, public health officers, and dental officers to the prisons, reducing referrals from 70% to 6% in the six-month period of the course. These prison clinics have now developed a reputation for delivering such reliable, quality care that even staff and residents from the surrounding communities are accessing services there.

Other participating executives came from the nation’s largest referral hospitals, Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, and engaged in a friendly competition to reduce discharge time from specific wards. Each team mobilized staff to devise and implement systemic changes, reducing discharge time from nine hours to two hours at Kenyatta, and from eight hours to 53 minutes at Moi. Both hospitals plan to cascade the system to the remaining wards, thus relieving some of the hospitals’ serious space and congestion issues.

A second cohort of 31 health leaders has now embarked on the LeHHO course.  USAID, through the LMS project, will continue to partner with Strathmore Business School to deliver the course through 2015, after which Strathmore has plans to continue the program as a model of executive health systems education for the entire East African region.