Our Favorite “P” Word

By Myron S. Cohen, MD*

March 2011 – One of our favorite words over at IGHID is “partnership.”  We embrace professional partnerships at all levels, from the individual to the institutional.  Indeed, our institute was founded in order to cultivate and catalyze new interdisciplinary partnerships on our campus and beyond.

Greg Allgood squatting behind Malawian children Lydia and Adidya, all holding PUR cups of water

Greg Allgood with Lydia and Adidya in Malawi

In my column last month, I wrote about a new partnership with the Curriculum in Global Studies which aims to introduce Carolina undergraduates to health affairs faculty and core concepts in global health. (FYI, the final session of Heels in the Field is on April 15th—we hope you’ll consider joining us).

These days, though, we’ve been talking a lot about one particular kind of partnership: the public-private partnership.

Earlier this month we announced a new program in Malawi called Safeguard the Family.  With core funding from USAID, UNC will partner with ten other public and private organizations to improve health care for about 150,000 women and their families in the central region of Malawi. Not only will this initiative address some of most critical problems in Malawi’s health care system by improving clinic staffing, providing more comprehensive and integrated routine care, and implementing an electronic patient tracking system, but it can also provide the foundation for additional research activities.

One of our partners on this is Greg Allgood, a UNC alumnus who directs Children’s Safe Drinking Water (CSDW) for Procter & Gamble.  I’ve written about him in this column before, since we have been collaborating with Greg to provide PUR water filtration packets to our patients at UNC Project-Malawi. Now, Greg’s organization will help us get clean drinking water to the women and families who are seen at the more than 130 clinics involved in Safeguard the Family.

Greg will be on campus in April, joined by another representative of Procter & Gamble, Nada Dugas, who heads the Pampers/UNICEF “One Pack = One Vaccine” campaign.  To date, One Pack=One Vaccine has provided over 200 million tetanus vaccines, protecting over 45 million mothers and their babies in 27 countries.  When mothers are not properly vaccinated, their infants suffer a substantial risk of neonatal tetanus from an infection in the umbilical stump.  This disease is unknown in more developed countries yet is a terrible tragedy in countries with limited health care resources.

This summer, seven UNC undergraduates will travel to West Africa with Students of the World to document the success of the Pampers/UNICEF program. Using film, photography, writing and other creative methods, the students will share stories about the program to educate and inspire others to action.

On April 13 and 14, IGHID will be hosting Greg, Nada and two representatives from Students of the World for a series of meetings and public events to highlight the success of these public-private partnerships and explore new avenues (check our website soon for complete details). The events will crisscross the campus, reaching audiences in public health, business, journalism, and other units in the College of Arts & Sciences, all to highlight how private enterprise and the public sector can come together to make a difference.

Each month, Dr. Cohen writes a “Global Health Update” column for the UNC Global Newsletter.  We reprint the item here.

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