30 june 2021

In line with HAI’s commitment to support and strengthen local public health leadership, we are proud to announce that HAI will be fully transitioning our global operations and active programs to locally-based, locally-led NGOs in 2021. This transition—unanimously supported by HAI’s Board of Directors along with headquarters and in-country leadership—represents a shift away from a pervasive practice in global health that centers decision-making authority and donor relationships outside of the Global South; and a shift toward local autonomy and equity in global health.

For more than three decades, HAI’s partnership model and health system strengthening approach have underscored our commitment to local priority-setting and leadership in global health. When HAI took on our first “district adoption” program in Mozambique in 1987, we worked in solidarity with the newly independent nation’s National Health System, demonstrating our unwavering support of local institutions against apartheid-backed insurgents and bringing our resources and expertise to the table as collaborators. Each decade since, we have evolved and grown, letting our values drive us closer to our mission through reinvention of our structure and operations.

What began as a small organization staffed by a handful of Americans working in Mozambique and Seattle, by 2020 had grown into a global organization. Over 90% of our staff are locally-hired public health and nonprofit management professionals leading the highly successful implementation of a diverse portfolio of health promotion, education, and research programs.  We are extremely proud of the growth and impact of our mission on human lives, on public health systems, and on the practice of global health.

But, as with the rest of the world, 2020 presented us with an opportunity to reflect on how we adapt to change. 

In fact, global health has been changing for some time. Following a long history of parallel, foreign-led interventions that often circumvent local public sector health systems, funders of global health are increasingly looking to local expertise and local systems to help integrate public health interventions and drive impact to achieve universal health coverage. As this change takes place, iNGOs like HAI are being justifiably asked to make the case for maintaining expensive, global systems of operation following years of local capacity building efforts.  This is especially true when decision-making authority about how funds are employed is concentrated in headquarters offices, located outside countries of operation.

HAI has spent three decades successfully building collaborative, productive partnerships with our implementing and funding partners who we know see the continued value in our mission, model, and approach. But, we have also spent decades investing resources in our country office staff, building experience and strengthening expertise to successfully manage and implement large, complex grants.  Their responsiveness, flexibility, determination, and professionalism shone particularly bright in 2020 as has the quality of their work under HAI’s current Country Directors.

With our Côte d’Ivoire program approaching the end of its current funding in 2021, HAI’s board and leadership took the opportunity to consider the future of HAI’s remaining programs. As a result of much thoughtful consideration and planning, in October 2021, HAI will once again evolve in service of our mission and values.  At that time, with the support of our funders, HAI-Mozambique programs and staff will transfer to Comité para a Saúde de Moçambique (CSM) and HAI-Timor-Leste programs and staff will transfer to Asosiansaun Hamutuk Nasaun Saudavel (HAMNASA).

Both CSM and HAMNASA are independent, locally-registered NGOs with a board, leadership, and staff that reflects the communities they serve.  Both organizations—with years of support from HAI—have the systems and structures required to take on a wide range of funding opportunities.  And, importantly, both organizations embrace HAI’s public sector collaboration model and health system strengthening approach and will continue to work collaboratively with HAI’s existing partners, including Ministries of Health, National Institutes of Health, and the University of Washington.

As we continue to work closely with our staff, transition partners, government partners, and funders over the next few months to ensure a smooth transition, HAI’s Board of Directors will be working to re-envision HAI’s role and future as a champion of global health solidarity, equity, and action. What we know for sure is that HAI will enter its 35th year of operations, once again, looking very different than it ever has before.

And we’re very proud of that.

Please join us in celebrating the beginning of what we expect to be a very long, very successful future for both CSM and HAMNASA.

In Solidarity,

James Pfeiffer
Executive Director
Health Alliance International

Anne Evens
Board Chair
Health Alliance International

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