The Silicon Review
“We’ve created skills labs across Africa and Asia, taught providers to catch cancers early with new tools, and helped the sick complete treatment with digital patient navigation apps.”
Jhpiego, a non-profit organization, offers family planning, reproductive health, infection prevention and control, and maternal, newborn, and child healthcare services. Jhpiego serves communities worldwide.
In partnership with national governments, health experts, and local communities, Jhpiego builds health providers’ skills and develops systems that save lives now and guarantee healthier futures for women and their families.
Jhpiego is affiliated with Johns Hopkins University.
The organization was incorporated in 1973 and is headquartered in Baltimore, MD.
The Silicon Review contacted Dr. Leslie Mancuso, President and CEO of Jhpiego, who spoke about how the organization boosts health providers’ skills and develops systems to serve communities around the world. Below is an excerpt.
Q. How does Jhpiego save lives, improve health, and transform futures?
Great question! Simply put, Jhpiego saves and improves lives by ensuring quality care is accessible to all who need it—whoever they are, wherever they live.
Over our 50 years of translating innovative ideas into impact, doing this has meant everything from training doctors, nurses, and midwives in traditional settings, to being among the first international NGOs to incorporate low-cost models into practice. We’ve created skills labs across Africa and Asia, taught providers to catch cancers early with new tools, and helped the sick complete treatment with digital patient navigation apps.
By leveraging our understanding of public health, technology, and program implementation, we bring low-cost solutions to at-risk communities. The technologies we champion vary depending on the country's needs, but share a powerful commonality — they disrupt the narrative that the poorest and most marginalized must continue to die simply because known solutions don’t reach them.
In the area of women’s cancers, for example, we’re exploring digital health and AI/ML to increase screenings, diagnosis, and treatment. Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for women in Jhpiego’s countries. New self-collection options allow women to participate in their care and help us reach the women who need screening the most. This provides us the ability to scale up screening and treatment in low-income countries around the world.
Think of it, when women collect a specimen at home, they don’t have to travel to a facility, face long lines, or return for results. Typically, it’s difficult to get women to come to a facility even once—and only 40% of those return for results. These technologies are game-changing. We’re also piloting new, low-cost, efficient treatment options.
Jhpiego’s aim is always to help countries help themselves. Our local team in Mozambique developed PI-Saude, an electronic patient management system that generates lists of “lost” clients (those who stop treatment). Accessed by lay counselors via mobile devices, these lists improve patient tracking by delivering information in real-time. PI-Saude’s GPS capability also supports health workers in identifying partners and family members of people living with HIV so they can learn their status and access treatment and prevention services. To date, PI-Saude’s 300 users have filed more than one million electronic records with HIV testing data—a particularly useful health tool during the pandemic.
With its use of data science and predictive analytics, PI-Saude also gives us a glimpse of a new frontier—precision public health—that will lead to better insights and decision making.
You see, the “how” we improve health and transform the future of people requires many skills, many technologies, iterative learning, dedication, and science. At Jhpiego, we bring all of that and more to make a difference.
Q. What are your other focus areas?
Jhpiego supports countries to end preventable deaths—where there is a need, we respond. As the world has changed, so has Jhpiego. In the five decades since our founding, our portfolio has expanded beyond our core work in safe pregnancy and childbirth to include women’s cancers, malaria, infectious diseases, and expanding access to immunization and safe surgery. Since Covid-19, we’ve played a significant role in prevention and vaccination efforts across our 40 countries and, for the first time, at home, in Baltimore and Washington, DC.
This virus has touched every country where we work, but the healthcare system weaknesses it has exposed are unique to each setting. In Ghana, for example, we’re currently preparing health workers to deliver advanced respiratory support for Covid-19 patients. In Pakistan, we’re helping hospitals strengthen their infection prevention and control programs. In Lesotho, we’re supporting vaccination campaigns that have helped the country achieve one of the highest vaccination rates against Covid-19 in Africa. Our response varies based on the country's needs.
In an instance of reverse technology, the city of Baltimore tapped Jhpiego for contact tracing and vaccination initiatives in hard-hit communities. With deep experience combatting HIV, TB, and Ebola across the globe, we were prepared—and honored—to use this expertise in our backyard. Today, 64% of Baltimoreans are fully vaccinated, in line with the national average. I am so proud of Jhpiego’s contributions to this work!
Looking forward, Jhpiego’s deep expertise and in-country relationships uniquely position us for the work ahead — building the resilient health systems of the future from the lessons learned in this crisis.
Q. What is the role of the private sector in Jhpiego’s success?
Success in global health requires all hands on deck. We need everyone at the table to tackle these complex challenges.
When individuals and corporations partner with Jhpiego, they make a meaningful impact. In the face of our ambitious goals, we share our mission—to save the lives of vulnerable populations—with our corporate partners, who enhance and support the work we do with governments across the world. Effective private sector relationships require building synergies based on common interests, utilizing Jhpiego’s strong in-country relationships across three continents, and delivering measurable results that influence impact at scale.
The newly renovated Iwoye Basic Health Center in Nigeria is a perfect example. The facility, which serves about 24,500 people from 14 rural farming communities, had deteriorated to the point of not having useable electricity or water. Generous donations from the Eurofins Foundation and a circle of supporters with ties to Nigeria funded the construction of a motorized borehole to pipe water to the building and overhead water tanks, increase the power of the solar panels to drive the water system, and install a perimeter wall and new facility doors for additional security. At the same time, Jhpiego helped update the knowledge and skills of the facility’s healthcare staff.
The result was astounding. In the first quarter after the renovation, the health center saw a 140% increase in attendance. This is clear proof that individual donors make a significant difference in saving lives in the communities Jhpiego serves.
Provide a success story describing the challenges women face and how Jhpiego’s solutions help them overcome those challenges.
Family planning has been central to Jhpiego’s mission since day one because it dramatically saves lives and gives women the time and good health they need to control their futures. Putting women at the center of their health decisions is key to our success.
Consider Laetitia Tagnan, a college student in Burkina Faso who devotes herself to her studies and takes precautions to avoid anything that will interfere with her plans, including getting pregnant. She is smart to do so because, in Koudougou, where Laetitia lives, many students have unplanned pregnancies. After talking with her boyfriend, she began taking birth control pills, but that didn’t end her anxieties. She worried about what people would think if they saw her buying contraception, and she often forgot to take one pill every day at a fixed time, which put her at risk of pregnancy.
Jhpiego helps women like Laetitia take control of their health and future by putting care into their own hands with self-injectable contraceptives. Since 2015, working in partnership with the government of Burkina Faso and with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we’ve supported the introduction of DMPA-SC—a self-injectable contraceptive that protects against pregnancy for three months.
When Laetitia visited the university medical center, the trained midwife counseled her on various contraceptive methods. When asked why she chose DMPA-SC, she said it met her needs. “By injecting myself every quarter, I can be sure that I will not get pregnant. Plus, I don’t have to waste time waiting in a long line of patients to get the injection. I take this time to attend my classes and learn my lessons.”
Consider that! By training a woman to give herself a shot, we put control of her health into her own hands. Laetitia is one of the millions of women Jhpiego has reached with family planning information and contraception options.
Dr. Leslie Mancuso | President & CEO
Dr. Leslie Mancuso began her career as a pediatric and neonatal intensive care nurse, but work trips abroad led her to discover her life’s passion: working to end the needless deaths that result simply due to a lack of access to basic healthcare. For 20 years leading Jhpiego, a non-profit global health affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, she has done just that, driving the organization’s work to expand access to lifesaving care for people in the world’s most challenging areas for health. Today, she oversees programs that touch the lives of one billion people across 40 countries and three continents.
As Jhpiego’s President and CEO, Dr. Mancuso has grown the organization’s budget from $5 million to as high as $420 million and increased staff more than twenty-fold. During her 20-year tenure, the organization has received numerous high-profile awards, including the 2014 United Nations Population Award, the 2014 CLASSY Award for Health, the Sigma Theta Tau International Archon Award, and the 2017 Webby Award.
Dr. Mancuso is a recognized international business leader with decades of experience developing public-private partnerships with organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the US government, GE Foundation, Merck, and Laerdal Medical. She serves on numerous boards, including the Life Science Innovation Forum of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Organization, the Board of Directors of the World Trade Center Institute, and as secretary of the US-ASEAN Business Council’s board and member of the board’s executive committee. Dr. Mancuso has been the recipient of many prestigious awards—including the Regional Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the Maryland Governor International Leadership Award—and was inducted into the Maryland Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame.