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SMDP: Advancing Global Health Leadership and Management

Important health initiatives can fall short of their goals when leadership is weak and skilled management and strong organizational systems are lacking. Many prominent global health organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Agency for International Development, are emphasizing the importance of leadership and management to develop and sustain successful health initiatives. Strong leadership and management is needed to leverage limited resources and design targeted, effective programs that truly address the most urgent health needs and improve the health and lives of individuals.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is dedicated to strengthening health systems globally through improved public health leadership and management. We engage, develop, and support health leaders by building country capacity to achieve lasting health improvements, developing strong partnerships, providing strategic leadership, and advancing the science base through applied research and evaluation.

SMDP Fact Sheet

  • Building country capacity to achieve lasting health improvements
    CDC works with countries to develop professional public health leaders and managers who can plant the seeds for stronger and more enduring health systems. Our capacity building programs develop the competencies and capabilities of individuals, organizations, partnerships, and systems. With technical assistance from CDC, countries assess their management capabilities, address quality standards, and take action to put in place policies and practices that improve organizational performance. We encourage country leaders to engage stakeholders as we tackle their challenges together. At the national and district levels, we support the development of practical management skills using training, field-based learning, mentoring, coaching, and online learning. Those skills can be applied directly to addressing current health priorities. By demonstrating how to transfer these skills to other health challenges a country may face, we help develop effective and flexible managers.
  • Developing strong partnerships and providing strategic leadership
    Our work in strategic partnerships and leadership leverages wide-ranging expertise from across CDC and other organizations. We are working more closely than ever with global health leaders, such as the World Health Organization, to bring their experience and wisdom to our global engagements. We are strong advocates for good management policies and practices and their application to public health programs and services.
  • Advancing the evidence base through applied research and evaluation CDC is respected worldwide for its public health expertise and epidemiological research. From promoting maternal and child health to preventing infectious diseases to strengthening laboratory systems, CDC’s knowledge, experience, and global reach have proven to be vital for improving health outcomes. CDC also draws upon management science and research from the public and private sectors, as well as managers’ experiences in the United States and around the world, to inform its global health work. As we build the evidence base for effective public health management, we are at the same time finding ways to evaluate them and tailor them so that they are appropriate to the cultures, traditions, and resources of the countries with which we work. We are developing tools and measures that can be used anywhere, such as the Organizational Self-Assessment Tool, that we will share with our global partners.
Trainees conduct a group exercise during an MIPH course.

Trainees conduct a group exercise during an MIPH course.

Program Successes

  • The global health benefits of these systems-strengthening efforts are evident in our successes.
  • Since 1992, CDC has trained 379 fellows from 65 developing countries in public health management competencies including program planning, project management, process improvement, and performance management. We work with those alumni who in turn help create public health leadership and management development programs in their countries and pass their skills on to other managers.
  • CDC is currently providing management technical assistance and training to Azerbaijan, Botswana, Ethiopia, Georgia, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Vietnam as well as to the Central America Field Epidemiology Training Program and the Ghana School of Public Health.
  • In many countries in which CDC has worked, improvements in management capacity have resulted in more efficient processes which pay health dividends. For example, in support of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), CDC provides management capacity building technical assistance in Botswana, Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda, and Vietnam. Our support of PEPFAR programs has helped country HIV/AIDS managers to:
  • Reduce turnaround time for HIV/AIDS patients’ viral load tests;
  • Increase the number of persons enrolled in voluntary counseling and testing programs;
  • Reduce long waiting times for hospital and clinic services;
  • Increase adherence to opportunistic infection prophylaxis; and
  • Improve the quality of HIV/AIDS counseling services.

For More Information

At CDC, we use quality leadership and management approaches in tandem with tested public health interventions to advance country-driven health programs to improve health and quality of life for people for years to come. For more information and updates, please visit us online at

  • Page last reviewed: February 24, 2010
  • Page last updated: February 24, 2010
  • Content source: Global Health
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