A gathering of ‘unlike minds’: The Pacific Health Summit

          

The following post was written for the HNN by Karuna Luthra and Jacqueline Koch, from the Pacific Health Summit.

In June 2010, the 6th annual Pacific Health Summit took place in London, bringing together global leaders to tackle how science, industry, and policy can improve health outcomes for mothers and newborns, with an emphasis on public-private partnerships and the role of industry. Over the course of two days, participants explored ways to strengthen collaborations and leverage the creativity of this gathering of ‘unlike minds.’ The 2010 Summit Report summarizes the key discussions and impact of 2010 Summit.

2010 Summit participants remarked that the meeting represented a “historic conversation” that opened unprecedented dialogue on maternal and newborn health between the private sector, policy, non-profit, and donor communities. Leaders in the room agreed that this unique discussion with peers from other sectors transformed their priorities and perspectives. The most important outcome: new comfort with a rare, frank, cross-sector conversation that identified common ground and compelling opportunities for all present.

Highlights of the Summit included Hans Rosling’s Opening Dinner interactive presentation charting the Bubbles of Life for maternal and child mortality trends worldwide, with an emphasis on the role of infrastructure and the private sector, particular telecoms, in bringing down these rates in recent years. . Introductory remarks by Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, for the session “Delivering Results: How Can We Mobilize the Creativity of Business?” set the stage for frank, honest discussions about what partnering across sectors truly means and how to sustainably leverage the strengths of industry for MNCH over the long term. Margaret Chan’s keynote address at the Summit underscored the importance of partnerships, and discussions at a special plenary breakfast on technologies for MNH explored how innovative technologies for MNH can best be brought to bear in resource-challenged settings for maximum impact.

  
 Hans Rosling (left). Summit participants at the “Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV through a Health Literacy Lens” workshop (right).
 

Emerging Results Highlighted in the Report – Reporting back in the weeks following the 2010 meeting, a number of participants indicated that the Summit not only helped define and galvanize personal commitments to maternal and newborn health, but that new collaborative efforts were already underway. One international agency has been in discussions with a multinational technology company to develop a global health technology network, specifically for developing economies. A number of other participants reported back that they are now exploring partnerships with a major mobile phone company. 

Additional practical results for MNH are evolving for a census data-gathering system, SMS mobile technology support to pregnant mothers, mapping of health projects, crowd sourcing maternal and newborn consumer health information, and adapting high-quality, low-cost, life-saving medical equipment for rural settings.

The 2010 Summit also provided immediate entry points for new partnerships through twelve Calls for Collaboration distributed to all participants. Hailing from all sectors, these detailed proposals—each submitted and managed by Summit participants such as Pfizer, Save the Children, and PATH—sought innovative alliances to achieve specific outcomes. Importantly, they provided a springboard for nuanced discussion about all forms of engagement, but none of them asked for financial donations. By leveraging cross-sector expertise and providing specific platforms for engagement beyond financial support, the Summit hopes to create new bonds between motivated players in global health and encourage creative solutions.

  

Sally Davies, Joy Lawn, Saudatu Sani, Jeremy Shiffman (left). Nigel Crisp and Summit participants at the Summit concluding lunch at Parliament (right).
 

Additional outcomes from the 2010 Summit are still emerging, but it is clear that the 2010 Summit marks a game-changing moment for engaging industry in MNH. As in previous years, Summit results are based in core business-models and long-term strategies rather than donations or official group recommendations, and those outcomes take significant time to gel before they are ready for public launch. The Summit Secretariat will continue to track these outcomes and subsequent Summits will follow up on 2010 results, encouraging report-ins on MNH discussions.

Check out our website for additional photos and news on this year’s summit. Video clips are also available here.

Photo credits: 2010 Pacific Health Summit


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