Expanding the Boundaries of Global Health: The Intersection of the Public and Private Sector
Thursday, October 8, 2015
“There is a shift taking place in the public health arena to strategically engage the private sector to address global health needs,” said Bridget McHenry, a fellow for Global Health Fellows Program II, serving as organizational development adviser for Office of Population and Reproductive Health in U.S. Agency for International Development’s Global Health Bureau.
An increasing number of companies are turning their attention — and their resources — to the vast health needs of the global population for two essential reasons: It represents opportunities to create shared value and it is foundational to a thriving economy. Relatively new to the landscape of international development, strategic partnerships help to guide the strategies, investments and on-the-ground engagements that can inform the deployment of the resources only the private sector can bring.
Working with the Public Health Institute and its innovative work through the USAID-funded Global Health Fellows Program opened my eyes to the realities, needs, and opportunities for the private, public, and social sectors to engage in global health. It’s not news to the professionals in this field that health is the base upon which development and commerce meet, but it’s something that the rest of us might not see as clearly.
In 2010, GHFP-II saw an opportunity to expand that kind of insight by linking with PYXERA Global to create “Global Health Champions,” strengthening programming by enabling nonprofit organizations to work with corporations who place their employees in short-term pro bono assignments that leverage their professional expertise to improve health in underserved communities.
The U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, which were ratified last month, address global health challenges for people of all economic and cultural backgrounds. The venn diagram below is one depiction of how these goals interrelate. At the center of the graphic, is one of the most important points: partnership is required to achieve these goals. No one organization — or one sector — can do it alone. The challenges these goals represent require the innovative thinking from a diverse community of talent — leveraging government, nonprofit and private sector professionals alike.
Goal 3, for example, is the most obvious health-related goal, because it speaks directly to ensuring healthy lives and promotes wellbeing for all at all ages. When BD sends its employees to Peru to provide professional assistance to CerviCusco, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing cervical cancer, and build the organization’s capability to reach more than 35,000 underserved women from the Andes mountains who often need to walk up to five hours for basic gynecological services, they are meeting a vital health need.