Why the UN, GE and others are pushing for a shift in global health leadership

Tue, 2016-05-31 06:06 -- Compassionate C...

The statistics are jarring -- 2.5 times as many young girls as boys in sub-Sahara Africa are infected with HIV, according to UNICEF. A disproportionate number of women in low and middle-income countries die from cardiovascular disease, reports the World Heart Federation. And the World Health Organization says there are 830 deaths every day from preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth.

That's not the end of it either. A study of four African countries published in the journal Reproductive Health found that "death of a woman during pregnancy and childbirth devastates her family’s financial and economic stability as well as her children’s health, education and future opportunities."

Changing the status quo
In a commentary for Fortune, Terri Bresenham, President and CEO of GE Healthcare Africa, India and Southeast Asia, and Lakshmi Puri, a UN Assistant-Secretary-General, describe a move to transform the healthcare status quo, where today they say women make up 75% of the global healthcare workforce, yet hold only 35% of the top jobs.

They wrote:

"To create meaningful and sustainable change in the disparity affecting women’s and girls’ health, we need to substantially increase the number of female leaders in the global health sector. Healthcare systems that connect to the needs of women and children can be more effectively developed by women who have experienced the same journey. Including women’s voices can have a tremendous impact on actions and outcomes; what’s missing is the opportunity to do so."

The goal, they say, is not perfection but progress in the advancement of women in policymaking roles and their participation in determining responses to public health challenges from the Zika virus to ending violence against women.

A role for technology
Council Lead Partner GE's participation in the effort will include collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund to launch an online midwifery training and networking platform. It will, as Bresenham and Puri explain in Fortune, "connect more than 700 midwives from 30 countries worldwide to share information on the latest healthcare solutions and prepare these midwives to play a greater role in policy dialogues and advocate on behalf of midwives and the women and children they serve within their own country."

GE is also making its leadership courses available to senior and emerging women leaders in the global health sector.

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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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