A bold partnership dramatically reduced the deaths of mothers


In 2011, I was heading President Barack Obama’s signature Global Health Initiative at the Department of State. Reporting directly to Secretary Hillary Clinton, I felt compelled to use my past experience as a CEO of a FORTUNE 50 corporation to address a global challenge that inspired me professionally and personally: saving mothers’ lives.


It was an extraordinary moment in history. The New York Times had just reported on a crisis in maternal health in Uganda. Women were dying when their deaths could have been prevented. The situation was deeply disturbing—and motivating for our team. No vaccine, no drug alone could solve this problem. Women need quality services. They need integrated health and community systems that work in real time.


A CHALLENGE ACCEPTED

Less than a year later, Secretary Clinton launched Saving Mothers, Giving Life to test an integrated health systems approach to dramatically reduce maternal and child death in three sub-Saharan African countries—Uganda, Zambia, and Nigeria. Our team set an audacious goal of decreasing maternal deaths by 50% in targeted districts.

I knew this target would be tough to achieve, and I embraced it. I believe that audacious goals inspire new solutions and force long-standing silos to be torn down.


TEARING DOWN SILOS TO SAVE LIVES

With committed leaders and strong public health agencies, the US government had much to offer. We needed partners to bring complementary strength and dedication to form a super team of public, private, and NGO leaders focused on accelerating reductions in maternal mortality:


IN NIGERIA, MY NEW PERSPECTIVE ON A SUCCESSFUL PARTNERSHIP

Now, as President and CEO of Pathfinder, I get to see Saving Mothers, Giving Life activities firsthand in Cross River State, Nigeria, where Pathfinder is a lead implementer. Here, we work to strengthen linkages between private and public systems and offer women and their families a total market response that saves lives.


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