Set in Neno District, Malawi from 2007–2012, the case focuses on the economic impact of investing in health care infrastructure. It examines management decisions that leaders of Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo (APZU) and its founding organization—Partners In Health (PIH)—made as they supported the Government of Malawi in building a hospital and scaling up the delivery of APZU clinical and social programs across Neno district. The case highlights how a non-governmental organization can navigate the politics and local culture to improve Malawi’s health care system in close partnership with a strong, protocol-driven government. The case begins with Ophelia Dahl, co-founder and executive director of Partners In Health, reflecting on her December 2011 trip to Neno, nearly four years after her first visit. She observed signs of progress unrelated to health—bank branches had opened in town, a new road had been built, and the market had expanded dramatically. Ultimately, the case explores what this demonstrates about the value of her organization’s investments in health.
Teaching Note available through Harvard Business Publishing.
In the foreground: One-story original structures of Neno Rural Hospital used for outpatient and maternity services. In back: Two-story building constructed by APZU and partners used for inpatient wards, meetings, computer use, laboratory work, and government offices. Source: Keri Wachter, 2012.
Learning Objectives: To understand the challenges of hiring and retaining local and expat staff, the complexity of an international NGO partnering with the government to improve health care, how leadership acumen and approaches impact scaling up and sustaining health care delivery, the relationship between the district hospital and the local economy, and how to assess impact beyond health measures.
Keywords: Global health, social equality, project management, business and government relations, partnerships, strategy, economic development, health care policy, health care delivery, public health, human resource management, developing countries, innovation