On March 13, 2018, iGHP had the pleasure of hosting Mr. Robert Marten, a Hitachi/Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) International Affairs Fellow and visiting fellow at the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE). Speaking as a guest lecturer for our monthly seminar, Mr. Marten gave a presentation on his recent experience working with WHO in the post-Ebola Sierra Leone.
Mr. Marten started off his presentation with a brief introduction of himself, explaining how his time as a UN Volunteer in Vietnam working in the HIV/AIDS program was transformational in switching his career trajectory from pursing a PhD in history to becoming the global health specialist that he is today.
After spending 6 years as a senior program officer at the Rockefeller Foundation on their Transforming Health Systems for Universal Health Coverage, Mr. Marten went to Sierra Leone in 2016 to work on the country’s human resources for health (HRH) strategic plan development with WHO. In Sierra Leone, Mr. Marten and his team was tasked to work with all stakeholders ranging from the government, CSO and donor partners to create a national 5-year strategic plan for HRH. With the limited time and resources available in what was an already challenging environment, Mr. Marten explained how his team had focused to create a strategic plan that will be immune to government changes by basing the recommendations on data and scientific evidence. In order to do so, his team conducted in person interviews at all health stations to collect reliable data. These data were assessed and analyzed to reflect strategies in the HRH Strategic Plan 2017-2021.
Through his presentation, Mr. Marten gave us a glimpse in the life of Sierra Leone, where the lack of basic infrastructure created challenges on a daily basis while the natural beauty of the country also brought comfort.
He also touched on the difficulty WHO faced in coordinating all the different actors in health, both at the global and country level. Mr. Marten shared with us his insights on approaches WHO can take to exercise their role as provider of leadership to the countries, CSOs and other stakeholders in the crowded and ever-growing field of global health.