On Thursday September 24, 2009, I attended a gathering of various leaders in the field of maternal health who were in New York to make commitments at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting.
As a co-representative of the American India Foundation (AIF) along with Dr. Sanjay Sinho (CEO), I joined innovators from the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth, Jhpiego, the Micronutrient Initiative, the Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Pakistan, and the Lwala Community Alliance in a discussion about how to combat the widespread suffering and needless deaths of mothers around the world.
My experience with maternal health comes primarily from Zambia, where I was recently working on a project focused on the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission. While I was there, I couldn’t help but notice the widespread lack of communication between individuals and NGOs who were all working toward the same goals. There is no doubt in my mind that efforts were being duplicated, and that some essential aspects of maternal health were being left unaddressed.
At the meeting in New York, however, it was extremely encouraging and even inspiring to see all of these visionaries at the same table talking about how to strengthen their efforts through collaboration. We discussed problems ranging from eclampsia to maternal nutrition to the lack of adequate health facilities. The ideas to overcome some of these obstacles were equally as diverse, including public-private partnerships, international fellowship programs for young innovators, and community-based prevention and capacity building. Essentially, no one at the table was approaching the situation in the exact same way, yet everyone was open to sharing and forming collaborations to create new synergies.
The problems associated with maternal health in developing countries cannot be addressed with one intervention, by one organization, or in one country. Indeed, to improve the situation of this especially vulnerable population, these issues must be attacked from multiple angles. I see the discussion during CGI as a step in the right direction for maternal health and global health at large.
You can read more about the commitments that were made at the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative Meeting related to maternal health here.