14 January 2016

Every Woman Every Child Private Sector Learning Session: Business Approaches to Advancing Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health

Almost 100 participants from a variety of companies, civil society organizations, and the UN system came together to share private sector strategies that have improved maternal and child health outcomes around the world, and celebrate successes in Every Woman Every Child as we close out the Millennium Development Goals and move into the Sustainable Development Goals. As Nana Kuo, Senior Manager, Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General, stated in her welcoming remarks, “Every Woman Every Child is a platform to bring these sectors and varying partners together to work towards a common goal.”

The event explored the different approaches the private sector has taken in advancing women’s and children’s health, focused around three core topics: behavior change and demand generation campaigns; shared value; and measurement and evaluation. Speakers included representatives from the Executive Office of United Nations Secretary-General, McCann Global Health, Unilever, Bayer, Clinton Health Access Initiative, MDG Health Alliance, Becton, Dickinson & Company, Mercado Global, Nestlé, GE, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Adara Group, FHI 360, the World Bank, and UNFPA. Chan Harjivan, Partner, Global Public Health at PwC, set the stage for the day by stating, “Without the private sector there can be no sustainable improvement in public health.”

Panel 1

Panelists from the first session on Communicating for Behavior Change underlined the importance of better applying tried and tested businesses practices, such as advertising, building awareness through utilization of social media, and offering products and programs to generate demand and create positive health-seeking behavior. Panelists collectively agreed on the importance of sharing successful mechanisms across sectors. As Klaus Brill, Vice President, Corporate Commercial Relations at Bayer, stated “We’ve learned that our programs need to be integrated into the public sector to be sustainable, and we must learn from each other in efforts to make progress.”

Panel 2In the second session, Wendy Johnson-Askew, Vice President, Corporate Affairs at Nestlé Nutrition highlighted the importance of shared value when she said, “If we do good for society, we do good for business.” Panelists defined what shared value approaches to global health mean to their company and the need for collaborative efforts when trying to address global health challenges. 

Panel 3

The final panel focused on measurement and evaluation, with panelists sharing the methods through which their companies track, monitor and report their progress and success. As Joy Marini, Executive Director at Johnson & Johnson said, “Companies have to bite the bullet and be ready to invest in M&E in the long term.” Kimber Haddix McKay, Research Director at Adara Group emphasized the significance of understanding the local and historical context of the environment in which you are collecting data and choose measurement metrics in collaboration with local partners and implementers. 

Rama speaking

We also heard from Rama Lakshminarayanan, Senior Public Health Specialist at the World Bank, who spoke about the implications of the Global Financing Facility on the private sector and how investments in the public health industry can be financed, scaled up and sustained. She referenced a private sector strategy which is currently being elaborated and will form the subject of consultations with private sector partners over the coming months.

A highlight of the event was the announcement of the first U.S based commitment to Every Woman Every Child, focusing on progressive parental workplace practices. A coalition of five companies led by Danone, and including Nestlé, Barclays, KKR and Ernst & Young committed to providing a broad range of actions over the coming years in support of parental leave, flexible work environments and breastfeeding-friendly workplaces.  Luciana Nuñez of Danone Group summarized the exciting development when she stated that the companies were “trying to create an open coalition committing to something new and measureable” for individuals in the workforce. 

Louise Dann, Senior Manager of Private Sector Partnerships at UFNPA, eloquently closed out the day by summarizing the event’s key take-aways, reminding participants that they “have changed the way you do business, as well as changing the way the UN works.”

Click here to download the event summary.