June 29, 2014

Achieving Progress for Women and Girls Through Partnerships

Written by Patrick McCrummen, Director of Communications for Worldwide Corporate Contributions at Johnson & Johnson

This post originally appeared on the +SocialGood website here. Reposted with permission.

Every day this year, 17,000 more children and 700 more mothers will survive than children and mothers did each day in 1990. This tremendous progress is thanks in large part to the global health leaders who met this past Wednesday at USAID’s “Acting on the Call” summit to end preventable maternal and child deaths.

The summit was a great opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the progress we’ve made in expanding access to skilled medical care and life-saving treatments and medications, and to double down on our efforts to reach even more mothers, children, and newborns.

As I listened to leaders like Ethiopia’s Minister of Health Kesetebirhan Admasu, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, Project Mercy founder Marta Gabre-Tsadick, and Johnson & Johnson Vice President of Corporate Citizenship Sharon D’Agostino, a key theme emerged: We cannot do this work alone.

Over the past 25 years, we’ve succeeded in connecting pregnant women to skilled birth attendants, HIV positive mothers to treatment to prevent mother to child transmission, children to vaccines, and communities to financial resources because we have worked together as a community. Government officials, non-profit and private sector leaders, medical professionals, and researchers from across the globe have come together to pool resources, expertise, and influence to devise actionable blueprints to tackle the serious problems of maternal, newborn, and child death. But as a community, we’ve only been able to do this because empowered individuals and organizations have been able to work in support of each other, together in service to at-risk communities.

India’s Minister of Health & Family Welfare Dr. Harsh Vardhan wisely told the crowd we will not make the leap from reducing preventable maternal, newborn, and child deaths to ending these deaths by working in silos.

We need Dr. Val Curtis of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to continue her research on behavior modification, ensuing that WASH initiatives that transform sanitation and hygiene stay informed by real data. We need Coca Cola to continue leveraging their supply chain strengths to improve access to vaccines. We need non-profit leaders like Family Care International President Ann Starrs to continue advocating tirelessly for women and girls.

We will only achieve a healthy future together for all mothers and children together – if researchers share their findings with business leaders, if business leaders partner with non-profits to leverage their resources, and if government leaders make women, newborns, and children a political, social, and economic priority.

The Acting on the Call summit was part of an important conversation, but certainly not the end of it. The world’s focus will shift to the post-2015 development agenda in the coming months, and it will be crucial to ensure a place in that agenda for prioritizing partnerships, and for improving the health of women, girls, and children.

The conversation continues this coming week in Johannesburg, and you can be part of that conversation. Join us on June 30th, as we co-host Healthy Women +SocialGood, live from the PMNCH Partners Forum in South Africa. You can join along by using the hashtag #PMNCHLive today and through July 1st. Every voice matters in this global conversation – how will you use yours?