• May 2010

"Health reform needs to have a place on the global agenda," insists Robin Strongin

By Robin Strongin
Creator, Disruptive Women in Health Care

Consider the words of Kofi A. Annan, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations

“As study after study has taught us, there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity or to reduce child and maternal mortality. No other policy is as sure to improve nutrition and promote health, including the prevention of HIV/AIDS. No other policy is as powerful in increasing the chances of education for the next generation. That is why discrimination against women of all ages deprives the world’s children—all of them, not just the half who are girls—of the chance to reach their potential.”

While health reform in the US is a top domestic policy agenda, the need to improve health care in the developing world must be a high priority on the global policy agenda, as well.

And indeed, for many Disruptive Women in Health Care, it is.

On December 2, 2009, Disruptive Women hosted a reception and program in Washington, DC’s Women in the Arts Museum to launch our new series on The Value of Health: Creating Economic Security in the Developing World.

It is no coincidence that we chose the Women in the Arts Museum. It’s where women, economics, the arts and health care intersect. If we are ever to improve and sustain the health of women worldwide, women must be economically empowered. For many women around the world, the arts have provided just such a path.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus’ pioneering work shows us the way

This wonderful teacher and economist teaches us that microcredit, “the innovative banking program that provides poor people—mainly women—with small loans they use to launch businesses and lift their families out of poverty[i]” along with social business, “a business that is cause driven rather than profit driven with the potential to act as change agent for the world”[ii] can help create a World Without Poverty.

Economic empowerment alone is not enough. Education is critical. And there are enormous infrastructure, workforce, and communication challenges to overcome. At the same time, progress is being made, solutions exist and goals are being met. Our series highlighted both the progress and the challenges.

Here are a few snapshots from the various Disruptive Women in Health Care posts that illustrate this point

Ellen Dorsch, Founder, Creative Women: “After 7 years working with women-owned businesses in Ethiopia, Swaziland, Afghanistan, and now Mali, I’ve expanded my definition of Public Health and believe that employment is as necessary for good health as vaccines and clean water.”

Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health of Rwanda: “Unfortunately, in the majority of the developing world, mental health is not an issue that is given adequate attention. However, if we take the definition of the World Health Organization, mental health plays as important a part in overall health as the physical aspects do.”

Maureen Lewis, PhD, Advisor to the Chief Economist, The World Bank: “What is critical to good health for mothers and children in poorest countries? All studies point to the overwhelming importance of mothers’ education, as well as to clean water and immunizations.”

Miriam Temin, Co-Author, Start With a Girl: A New Agenda for Global Health: “Most girls enter adolescence healthy. It’s what happens to them in the eight or nine years following puberty that shapes their future. Unacceptably, it is factors largely beyond their control—both social and biological—that put them at risk.”

[i] Muhammad Yunus, “Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism,” 2007. Back Cover.
[ii] Muhammad Yunus, “Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism,” 2007. Page 22.

About Robin Strongin

Robin Strongin is an accomplished public affairs expert, with more than 25 years of experience working in Washington, DC. Her areas of specialization include health care, science, technology and innovation. Robin has worked with and for federal and state governments, regulatory agencies, Congress, think tanks, nonprofit organizations, corporations, coalitions and trade associations.

She founded Disruptive Women in Health Care in 2008 to serve as a platform for provocative ideas, thoughts and solutions in the health sphere. “We recognize that to accomplish this, we need to call on experts outside of the health industry,” she asserts.

She is also the president of Amplify Public Affairs, the next generation in public affairs, leading the way in the integration of new media and traditional communications strategies.

Contact Robin by email, rstrongin@amplifypublicaffairs.net.