By: Paula R. DeCola, Senior Director, External Medical Affairs, Pfizer, Inc
Prior to the UN General Assembly’s special session on MDG’s, Women Deliver hosted an event with UN agencies and delegates, government officials, foundations, as well as corporate and nonprofit leaders. “Accelerating Action on the MDGs: Delivering for Women, Girls, and Babies” took place at the Waldorf Astoria. I learned that day that although it is recognized as a locus for high society social events, its Park Avenue location once was home to a fistula hospital.
Fistula is still present in New York no doubt, but it’s a rare occurrence there and in most western countries. If the fistula hospital in New York City can be a forgotten entity within a generation’s time, if we can largely minimize the rates of maternal mortality and related morbidities in western countries, can the same be done on a global basis and within our lifetime?
It will certainly require the right mix of investments and interventions. We already know how much it will cost, and we also know the interventions that work. So what is left, why has it not happened? There is no easy answer, but I believe in order to make it happen sectors will need to come together as we did at the Waldorf Astoria. We need cross sector commitment in the near term, for the longer term, and we need action.
In order to do this we will need to use new muscles. We have shown that we can work across sectors. No better case is that of industry and HIV civil society. The next step is for us to extend our hands within our own sectors, where the common ground seems to be harder to forge due perhaps to our innate sense of competitiveness or our concern that we will dilute our effect. We need to use the intra-sector white space. This is true for civil society and disease focused non-profits, as well as for corporations. Groups like Women Deliver can provide the neutral forum for such discussions to take place and can be a true catalyst.
Let’s not lose sight of the hope we shared at the Waldorf Astoria and at the Women Deliver Conference in DC.
But hope does need action. So, let’s act.