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John Donnelly: Go to the People


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From community health workers in Haiti, to drug shop owners in eastern Tanzania, to midwives in western Afghanistan, the impact of Management Sciences for Health (MSH) has been felt throughout the developing world. Now, after 40 years of hands-on work helping build strong health systems, Go to the People tells the stories of the philosophy, the motivation, and the strategies used by MSH staff and local partners to improve the health of vulnerable people.

These stories give insight on how an organization’s approach to development can be a critical factor in failure or success. MSH’s approach is underscored by the title of the book, Go to the People, which is the first line of a Taoist poem about showing respect to others, developing trust, imparting knowledge, and leaving the work in the capable hands of the community.

That has been MSH’s philosophy from day one. “When we talk about success in this work,” says MSH founder Ron O’Connor, “it stems from two things-what we contribute, and more important, what people running their own health programs in their own country build themselves. That’s what we’re about.”