Partnering for Good
I recently participated as a guest speaker at a Techonomy Conference in New York, along with a representative of MedShare’s global health partner, Philips Healthcare.
The conversations both on-stage and off, left us re-energized to continue grappling with the central question of the event: will tech destroy or save the planet? After two days of hearing from an excellent, diverse mix of speakers, I am more hopeful and anxious about the future, but I am even more convinced that true change can only come about through Powerful Partnerships, not just the use of technology.
As I reflect on MedShare’s work over the past 20 years to help strengthen health systems in many marginalized communities around the world, while improving the lives of over 20 million people, I am reminded that none of this work could be done alone. Whether it be through our partnership with Philips that provide critical diagnostic biomedical equipment and equipment repairs and training, or working with community-based health workers like AMOS Health and Hope in Nicaragua to improve the quality of care in rural communities focused on improving maternal and child health outcomes, partnering for good resulted in great. Working together we were able to reduce neonatal deaths by 40% within 1 year.
All too often organizations feel that they must go it alone and receive full credit for their works. This mindset must change and our focus must shift to collective impact. We have all heard the adage, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together” The same holds true for achieving lasting and impactful change in the world of global health. Public, Private and Civil Society must come together with a collective goal of maximizing impact and saving lives.
A great example of this type of partnership was last year when we launched the Safe Birth Initiative along with Coca Cola and Nigeria’s Minister of Health. Every single day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 children under-five-year-olds and 145 women of childbearing age. This makes the country the second largest contributor to the under-five and maternal mortality rate in the world. Underneath the statistics lies the pain of human tragedy, for thousands of families who have lost their children. Even more devastating is the knowledge that, according to recent research, essential interventions reaching women and babies on time would have averted most of these deaths. By working directly with the Minister of Health we were able to develop a targeted intervention focused on upgrading maternity wards and neonatal care units for 15 resourced strained hospitals throughout the country. MedShare is proving essential supplies and high-quality equipment along with training on how to repair and properly maintain the equipment, while the entire project was funded by Coca Cola. Together we will improve outcomes for mothers and children throughout the country. Babies are now going home with their Mothers healthy, when just a year ago this may not have been possible if they had been born premature and the hospital lacked sufficient neonatal care.
Working together, we can do so much to improve outcomes and accelerate change. I welcome the help of technology, both high tech and low tech, but I prefer the help of people willing to work together to address many of the global health issues we face today. Harry S. Truman said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Together, we can make a difference.