08 January 2018

Committed to women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health; examples of business impact

Women, children and adolescents die daily, all over the world, from preventable causes. In 2015, approximately 303,000 women, most of them in low and middle-income countries, died during what ought to be one of the most joyous moments of their lives: giving birth. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the primary causes of maternal mortality could be averted given the right health education to women and communities, and stronger, accessible health systems including access to decent sanitation and hygiene.

Some 5.6 million children under five years of age died in 2016, almost 15,000 every day. Over 70% of these deaths occurred in Africa (48%) and South-East Asia (25%), and for the most part from deaths that are preventable—infectious, neonatal or nutritional conditions. An often-neglected age group is adolescents—yet in 2015, 1.2 million adolescents died, with road traffic accidents reported to be the leading cause of death, according to WHO.

Every Woman Every Child, launched in 2010 by the UN Secretary-General, is a global, multi-stakeholder movement which mobilizes action to implement the Every Woman Every Child Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030). The EWEC Global Strategy further advances the 2016-2030 Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring that the health of women, children and adolescents stays at the heart of the global development agenda.

Since 2010 nearly 100 companies from around the world have stepped forward to make public, measurable commitments on the Every Woman Every Child platform. These include global household brands such as GE, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Philips and Unilever, as well as big hitters on a national scale such as Safaricom in East Africa or Reliance Industries in India.

Check out the work of four innovative companies from around the world that are inspiring others through their efforts to drive progress. To learn more about their work, follow the links to their recently-published case studies summarized below:

  • Adara Group: Co-founded in 1998 by Audette Exel, an Australian female financier and corporate advisor, Adara Group employs an innovative business for purpose model in which revenues generated by its two-for-profit corporate advisory firms, Adara Advisors Pty Ltd & Adara Partners Pty Ltd, are channeled to fund the operational activities of Adara Development, a non-profit development organization. Adara Development’s activities are aimed at strengthening maternal, newborn and child health services in Uganda and Nepal. The case study shows how by partnering with the local Kiwoko Hospital in central Uganda, Adara has been able to work with local partners to ensure best in class maternal, neo-natal and pediatric care, while also taking care of adolescents living with HIV, orphans and other vulnerable children, providing nutritional support for individuals and training community healthcare workers.


  • Banka BioLoo: Based in India, Banka BioLoo is a woman-led business organization tackling the issue of open defecation by promoting and developing eco-friendly products and services for the human waste management system. About 58% of open defecation in the world occurs in India, and only about 21% of waste water is safely treated there. Banka BioLoo has created the Bio Digester Tank System (BDTS) technology which disposes of human waste in an environmentally-friendly way. Not only does the technology produce biogas that can be used for cooking, heating and lighting it also generates water that is safe for garden use. Banka BioLoo has already rolled out over 6 000 BioLoos in 20 states in India including in schools where BioLoos are helping keep girls in school. By working with the Indian government’s “Clean India Mission”, Banka BioLoo aims to help end open-defecation in India by 2019.


  • Discovery: Discovery, a South African health insurance group, is helping to meet Sustainable Development Goal 3.6 by ensuring road safety for school children. Recognizing the frightfully high rate of rate of traffic accidents in South Africa, the company initiated the Safe Travel to School Program to create a safer environment for children commuting to school on public transport. Discovery designed a holistic intervention targeting public bus drivers  that includes road safety awareness training, health checks, eye screenings with spectacles provided where needed, defensive driving for drivers and installation of the DQ Track system, a device that provides drivers with  feedback on their driving to help them know what areas to improve, Thanks to the roll out of this program drivers have improved their safety records, thus contributing to a reduction in road accidents and greater safety for school children. Although the program is only being implemented in Western Cape province for now, Discovery plans to extend it to other areas of the country.


  • John Snow, Inc (JSI): John Snow, Inc., and the nonprofit JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc., are public health management consulting and research organizations dedicated to improving the health of individuals and communities in the US and around the globe. JSI supports development agencies such as USAID and works with country governments, local NGOs and private sector companies to strengthen local health systems, improve supply chains for medical commodities and enhance local health workforce capacity. In 2016, JSI implemented reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health interventions in over 40 countries, strengthening health information systems, supporting nutrition interventions, training 108,735 individuals, health workers, and community volunteers, building stronger routine immunization systems and developing stronger supply chains.

These examples of private sector action demonstrate the transformative social impact that can be achieved by deliberate and informed business action. Achieving the SDGs and the EWEC Global Strategy requires an enhanced effort from governments and other partners to help incentivize and scale such activities. These Every Woman Every Child case studies and others can be found here. They illustrate the power of partnerships and collaboration across diverse settings as essential instruments to realize sustainable impact.