Posted by: davidjolson | 09/29/2010

Leveraging partnerships to improve maternal and child health

This guest blog was written by Aaron Emmel, government affairs officer, and Arianna Levitus, policy and advocacy associate,  both with PATH.

WASHINGTON, DC — Smita Baruah, director of government relations at the Global Health Council, introduced a briefing on Capitol Hill Monday by saying that she hoped the discussion on public-private partnerships (PPPs) to improve maternal, newborn and child health would serve as “a platform to transition commitments and increased attention into action.”

The four speakers provided concrete ideas of how to do that, discussing how PPPs improve the health of mothers, newborns and children and the lessons that their respective organizations have learned.

Wendy Taylor, special adviser on innovative finance and PPPs at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), explained that her job is to turn the president’s vision for partnerships into a reality. She said that the U.S. government’s partnerships with the private and nonprofit sectors can advance collaborative funding mechanisms (such as the GAVI Alliance and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, GAIN), leverage technology and innovation (including for the development of products that can meet tomorrow’s global health needs, as well as for the innovative use of communications technology); leverage private sector expertise, such as supply chain management; and leverage delivery channels for global health products and services.

Ms. Taylor spoke about the lessons USAID has learned about PPPs. The unique rationale for each partner’s contribution should be thought through in advance, she said. Partners should have a shared vision and be committed to shared goals. They should be prepared to make investments. And, Ms. Taylor said, their joint projects should have the potential for sustainability.

Joy Marini, director of corporate contributions at Johnson & Johnson, spoke about lessons learned by her company. She said that partnership is a give-and-take process, with the first year often being the hardest, because it is a trust-building period. Effective partnerships also require that partners find ways to communicate effectively and share relevant information, Ms. Marini said.

Hugh Chang, director of special initiatives at PATH, explained how PPPs have been in PATH’s DNA since the global health organization was founded more than 30 years ago. As of 2009, PATH was engaged in more than 160 partnerships with the private sector, United Nations agencies, government ministries, community groups other non-governmental organizations and foundations.  PATH seeks mutually beneficial partnerships with the private sector in order to ensure that health products and interventions are available, accessible, and affordable for people in low-income countries.

Mr. Chang said that what PATH brings to these relationships as a nonprofit, international global health organization is an understanding of how to work and collaborate in low-income countries around the world, including knowledge of local health systems, markets, and regulatory environments. PATH also brings a portfolio approach to the development of health interventions, which enables innovative ideas to be tested while others are introduced and brought to scale. Mr. Chang also spoke about the specific principles PATH has developed for private sector collaboration.

Juan Carlos Algere, director of monitoring, evaluation, and communications at Management Sciences for Health (MSH), provided an example of what PPPs can look like in practice. MSH is a nonprofit international health organization that helps managers and leaders in developing countries to create stronger management systems that improve health services for the greatest health impact. Mr. Algere described a successful, USAID-funded project in Peru in which MSH partnered with a local mining company to find sustainable, low-cost solutions to chronic malnutrition and other maternal, newborn and child health problems.

This event was the fourth in a series of policy briefings about under-explored issues in maternal, newborn, and child health, co-sponsored by the GHC, MSH and PATH.


  1. Anyone interested in global health partnerships and successful collaborations, should read “Real Collaboration: What it Takes for Global Health to Succeed,” by Mark Rosenberg, Elisabeth S. Hayes, Margaret H. McIntyre, and Nancy Neill.
    Everyone working in this area should have a copy.

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