Panel Discusses How to Create Healthier Humans

Contributed by: Show Editorial Team

Building Healthier Humans panel was delivered by Morad Fareed, Dr. Ana Langer, Olesya Struk, Rick Ridgeway, Emmanuela Gakidou, and Elizabeth Keith at Humanity 2.0 (Vatican City)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Approx. 200,00 women die from pregnancy-related causes annually
  • Every year a woman spends in school, child mortality rate goes down by 10%
  • Patagonia has the most developed on-site child development & education center in the world

To truly build healthier humans, we’re going to need the right tools. That’s why the Humanity 2.0 Building Healthier Humans Panel focused on practical ways in which stakeholders in academia, the private sector and faith-based organizations are working to better people’s lives, particularly by addressing the problem of maternal health. 

The panel, moderated by Professor Ana Langer of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, featured Emmanuela Gakidou, Professor of Health Metric Sciences and Senior Director of Organizational Development at IHME; Olesya Struk, Senior Director of Sustainability at Philips; Rick Ridgeway, VP of Public Engagement for Patagonia; and Elizabeth Keith, EVP of Sponsorship and Mission Integration for Dignity Health. The discussion at the 2019 Humanity 2.0 Forum at the Vatican was filmed live by the Traders Network Show, hosted by Matt Bird. 

In keeping with the panel discussion’s practical focus, Gakidou began the conversation by talking numbers. She said about 200,000 women die each year from pregnancy or childbirth complications, and about 5 million children die each year before their fifth birthday—a number that could be vastly reduced if the maternal mortality rate declined, she said. What’s more, about half of these maternal deaths are concentrated in just five countries: India, Pakistan, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia.

Gakidou said education levels correlate to these staggering death rates. 

“For every year that a woman spends in school, the child mortality rate goes down by about 10%,” she said. 

Companies like Patagonia have an intuitive sense of the value of education. Ridgeway said the California-based clothing company has an onsite, world-class child development center so young mothers returning to work have a place for their babies and kids. 

The company also provides 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, 12 weeks of paid leave to spouses, and it even pays for caregivers to travel with new mothers who have to visit different locations for work.

Patagonia’s goal is to serve as a model to other companies so that supportive policies and programs can become the norm, Ridgeway said, adding that helping families doesn’t have to impede profit.

“All of these commitments are revenue positive for us,” Ridgeway said. “All companies should be doing this. You can actually be more successful as a business by supporting the young mothers and the children with your business.”

Meanwhile, corporations like Philips are on the ground in the developing world working to help young mothers. Struk described an initiative in rural Africa to develop community life centers where pregnant women can receive prenatal care. Such centers, which provide access to clean water, solar-powered electricity and a team of medically trained practitioners, are a vital lifeline, Struk said. Instead of having to travel to a more urban location to receive care—an impossibility for many women who can’t take time off from their agricultural work—such centers offer a local option.    

Struk said these kinds of initiatives can spread across the world if companies have the right partners. Collaborating with local organizations, as well as organizations in other sectors, is critical, she said. 

One expansive network that companies can tap into is the Catholic Church, which, through affiliated healthcare facilities, has the capacity to treat a quarter of the U.S. population. Keith said her church-based organization, Dignity Health, was working on an advocacy and treatment program to combat postpartum depression. But beyond such targeted initiatives, Keith said human kindness could form the basis of meaningful partnerships between private and public entities. 

“It’s something that resonates with all of us. We can start from there,” she said. “We all desire to be part of the solution of creating a healthy community, and creating a community where people are flourishing.”

Clearly, even in a discussion about practical solutions, the panelists understood the importance of intangibles. For instance, Gakidou said, for all the data that IHME has collected on maternal and child mortality, the organization has not been able to measure the psychological impact on a family that’s lost its mother. 

On the flipside, Ridgeway described the kind of “soft” benefits that Patagonia employees experience working for such a family-friendly company. 

“We have found that when you are on our campus and you cannot get away from the sound of children playing, that that has a psychological impact on you,” he said. “You just can’t be a mean human being when there are kids outside the window playing.”

Gakidou said such positive ideals need to be propagated. 

“There are a lot of best practices around the world that do not get disseminated very widely,” she said. “Part of how we can all come together is to identify those best practices and then make them easier for others to implement in their daily practice. Even small steps can have massive implications.” 

(Written by Andrew Waite; Editing and revisions by Nicole Liddy)

PR and Media By: CommPro Worldwide

Links: Original Article

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