December 1, 2015
Sheila Leatherman, research professor of health policy and management at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been named lead adviser for a new unit on universal health coverage and quality in the World Health Organization’s Department of Service Delivery and Safety.
The new unit will provide support to countries around the world on the development and refinement of national quality policies and strategies, as envisioned through the National Quality Policy and Strategy (NQPS) Initiative, which will be ongoing for at least three years.
Leatherman said the design and execution of a national quality implementation strategy is a growing priority worldwide as countries strive to improve the performance of health care systems.
“Studies in low- and middle-income countries show that patients receive the wrong diagnosis in up to 30 percent to 50 percent of cases,” she said. “In some settings, only about half of patients seeking medical care will receive non-harmful care. Countries are particularly motivated now as the global push for universal health coverage is accompanied by a widespread recognition that increasing access without improving quality of care will not lead to better outcomes. We hope to provide countries with strategic support and practical technical assistance.”
Leatherman, who has been a faculty member at the Gillings School since 2000, has extensive expertise in policy analysis, quality of care, health systems performance measurement, international comparative health policy, and integration of microcredit and community health interventions in low- and middle-income countries.
She works internationally in a diverse set of projects, including serving as an adviser and evaluator to a number of individual ministries of health (notably in Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Mexico and England) and as a co-investigator for microfinance and community health programs in Tanzania, Nicaragua, Nigeria and Peru. She spent more than fifteen years conducting independent evaluation of the quality of care in the National Health Service (NHS) in England, for which Queen Elizabeth awarded her the title of Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 2007.