The George Washington University hosted The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and others for a discussion on the MCC’s Compact agreement in the country of Mongolia on June 6th 2013. The MCC, established in 2004, is an innovative United States foreign assistance agency that is committed to achieving results through country led decisions and solutions.
The five year, 285 million dollar investment began in 2007 to help the country achieve economic and social prosperity. Projects that have been implemented are related to property rights, vocational education, energy and the environment, road construction, and health. The health project was the topic of discussion at the university.
Dr. A. Munkhtaivan, the Health Project Director at the Millennium Challenge Account-Mongolia spoke of the need for preventative measures in health. Non-Communicable Diseases and Injuries, or NCDIs, were the focus of the health project. NCDIs are diseases that are not contagious. There are four major groupings of NCDIs: Cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes. They are largely caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking, a lack of physical activity, alcohol abuse and an unhealthy diet.
The overall goal of the health project was to prevent premature death as a result of the NCDIs. According to Dr. Munkhtaivan, major issues within Mongolia are breast and cervical cancers, hypertension, and diabetes. In order to achieve results per the MCC, several measures were taken:
- Improve Understanding of NCDI Prevention: Public awareness campaigns were deployed to encourage understanding of the health issues within Mongolia. A specific focus on the youth, as well as adults was practiced. For example, “Smoke Free Aimag” was a program implemented that curbed smoking in certain public settings. The country instituted food safety laws, food labels, and even reduced fat milk was introduced in the country for the first time.
- Improve National and Locals Response on Prevention and Control of NCDIs: A major part of the Compact as a whole is to allow Mongolians decide what was appropriate for their own people. 18,052 professionals in both the medical and non-medical fields were trained to put the plans into action across Mongolia. In addition, an 18 month Masters Public Health Program was created in conjunction with The George Washington University. It trained 35 students who will soon be the practicing leaders fighting disease in their country.
- Improve Quality of NCDI Services through Population-Based Intervention: This means looking at the health issues in Mongolia from multiple perspectives. For example, local law enforcement and traffic authorities worked to implement traffic laws that stopped accidents before they happened, thus reducing the number of emergency medical service vehicles needed to serve the injured.
The MCC’s focus was results, and it certainly achieved that in both the short term and long term. As of December 31, 2012, 14,272 people have been trained in NCDI prevention. In addition, seven clinical guidelines and four clinical standards have been approved and are in practice. Regular health screenings at the expense of the MCC, but later will be the financial responsibility of Mongolia, are conducted in target areas. The health project is expected to impact over 1.7 million people.
The speakers at this discussion were Jonathan Brooks, Managing Director, The Millennium Challenge Corporation; Ms. Batsaikhan Bolormaa, Counselor for Economic Affairs at the Embassy of Mongolia; Dr. A. Munkhtavian, Health Project Director, MCA- Mongolia; Dr. James M. Sherry, Professor of Global Health and International Affairs, The George Washington University, and Dr. Silvija Staprans, Director of Medical Affairs, Strategic Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement, Merck.
– Aysha Rasool