3 Questions with Michelle Gardner: The Future of Global Health


Michelle Gardner is the senior vice president of Chemonics’ Global Health Division. A public health professional with 20 years of international experience, she brings a broad public health background developing and overseeing programming in reproductive health and family planning, maternal and child health, immunization, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, and safe water, with a focus on both the public and private sectors.

What innovation in the health sector are you most excited about right now?

First, I think it’s important to define “innovation,” as I think it has become an overused and misunderstood term. I side with the view which USAID and others in development and humanitarian assistance have put forth. That is, innovation is something — a technology, product, or approach — which is either new or "old but used in new ways," that significantly advances development goals. Key within this is that the innovation can actually be used, scaled, and sustained.

With this definition in mind, there are so many exciting innovations today in development, and many more clearly on the horizon, that it’s difficult to pick just one or even just a few. Perhaps because of my background in and passion for maternal and child health, as well as where my focus has been in supporting Chemonics’ current work, the innovations today which excite me most are those which have demonstrated potential to significantly improve the availability of services and medicines essential to the health of women and children. Most notably, those women and children that are hard to reach.

For example, organizations like Zipline are working to help low- and middle-income countries pilot and scale the use of drones to deliver medicines to remote communities, and organizations like Global Good have developed containers that enable vaccines to be effectively stored where there is no electricity. We are working with counterparts in low- and middle-income countries to develop and scale new approaches and processes to expand access to services by tying development of provider skills to the health needs of the populations they serve. These kinds of innovations have demonstrated the potential to be game changers in bringing health care closer to the people who most need it.

What is your vision for Chemonics’ health work over the next five years? How do you see Chemonics contributing to the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

In setting the vision for Chemonics in health, I’ve considered a few things. First, the determinants or drivers of today’s key health issues are not necessarily health-related, and for the most part, they never have been. Rather, it’s economic, socio-cultural, political, and now increasingly environmental factors that continue to drive health issues. The new SDGs focus on each of these and other sectors, recognizing the interconnectedness of development challenges across sectors. However, funding and the often related design of development and humanitarian assistance largely continues to lag behind this recognition.

Second, Chemonics is not solely a health organization. Rather, we are a large, multidisciplinary organization which works in health among other sectors of development. My vision for Chemonics in health is to leverage today’s (and what will continue to be tomorrow’s) broader operating environment, build on and further align what we do and how we do it with global goals, and draw on Chemonics’ multidisciplinary expertise and partnerships to design, implement, and promote cross-sectoral solutions to health challenges. That is, to further Chemonics’ position and contribution as both a leader and a partner in cross-sectoral development agendas, initiatives, and programs.

You have an extensive background in engaging the private sector in health programming. What role do you think the private sector needs to play to achieve the SDGs?

To start, it’s important to recognize the breadth and complexity of the private sector and how it is changing. First, there are many different kinds of private sector actors: health care providers, pharmaceutical companies, logistics service providers, investment groups, information technology companies, the list goes on. There is no such thing as “the private sector” as a singular group, and each actor has their own interests and capabilities in contributing to the SDGs.

Second and broadly, the private sector is continuing to shift in how it operates. Private sector organizations are moving away from traditional public relations-driven corporate social responsibility programs to organizing and managing themselves as global citizens. That is, to look at their impact on their community and the environment on par with their bottom line. Further, private sector investment in international development is significant and growing. Today’s private sector already has been and will increasingly play a key role working toward achieving the SDGs.

In my view, across all the sector’s different segments, we must think of private sector actors as true partners in public health. Traditionally, the private sector has been engaged as a donor within public health through corporate social responsibility programs, but there are many opportunities to engage more deeply. Beyond bringing critical financial resources, the private sector can bring knowledge and expertise to achieve global public health goals through advances in technology and innovation. Partnerships can also provide real win-wins for the private sector. Public health isn’t only a public service anymore — for example, there are a many private service providers who are looking for clients and can take pressure off the public sector by caring for a greater share of patients. Public and private actors can also work together to help ensure that private sector health services are affordable and high-quality through insurance and other financing, which is beneficial to private providers while also helping the public health sector reach its goals.

In order to facilitate these partnerships, though, it’s necessary to break down the distrust between public and private actors by finding common ground, a common language, and common goals. By showing private sector actors how they can gain from collaboration, highlighting to the public sector how partnership will help them achieve their goals, and then creating a space for dialogue, it is possible to bring together actors who didn’t previously see the value in cooperating.

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3 Questions with Cristina Hardaga: Advancing Human Rights and Women's Rights in Mexico


Cristina Hardaga is the activity coordinator and gender focal point on USAID’s EnfoqueDH: Human Rights Public Policy Activity in Mexico. EnfoqueDH supports the government of Mexico and civil society to incorporate a human rights perspective into regulatory, federal, and state frameworks. Why is inclusion important for the development of Mexico? Mexico is a culturally rich and diverse country with a wealth of natural resources, but also a very unequal country. The already large divide between poor...

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Fatima Ahmed is Chemonics' gender focal point for the USAID Strengthening Somali Governance (SSG) project. Why is social inclusion important for the development of Somalia?   The crime rate in Somalia remains high, and weak government institutions often fail to bring justice. The marginalized populations in our society, such as youth, persons with disabilities, persons living with HIV, internally displaced persons (mostly women and children), and the poor, are often ignored by our communities, and...

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3 Questions with Kelly Brooks: On the Historic Colombian Peace Process


Kelly Brooks is chief of party for the USAID Human Rights Activity (HRA) in Colombia. HRA supports the Colombian government and civil society to foster respect for human rights and protect vulnerable populations. The Colombian government is negotiating a peace accord with the FARC guerrilla group after 50 years of conflict. What are the biggest challenges that the demobilization of the FARC presents, and how can the donor community support Colombia in overcoming those challenges? The FARC has...

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3 Questions with Tony Savelli: Saving Lives Through Health Supply Chains


Tony Savelli is the project director of the Global Health Supply Chain – Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) Project. GHSC-PSM is working to ensure uninterrupted supplies of health commodities reach patients around the world by transforming supply chains at the global and country level. What would you like to see GHSC-PSM accomplish over the next five years? In other words, how do you define success for GHSC-PSM? On any project where health commodities are involved, the ultimate goal...

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Hanan Zaidah is an expert in organizational development and institutional transformation with 20 years of experience. She currently serves as project director for the Human Resources for Health in 2030 (HRH2030) activity in Jordan. Prior to HRH2030, she worked as organizational development program manager for USAID/Jordan’s Strengthening Family Planning Project. Global health leaders have consistently identified motivation and retention of health workers as hurdles to achieving the vision of...

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3 Questions with Agim Salihu: Municipal Public Finance in Kosovo


Agim Salihu is a municipal development specialist with USAID’s Advancing Kosovo Together (AKT) program. AKT facilitates inter-ethnic cooperation among majority and minority communities to promote security and stability. You’ve said that you believe public financial management is the foundation of sustainable development in southeastern European countries. How does this belief translate into the work you’re doing on AKT? I am fully confident that in any part of the globe, including southeast...

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In a country where one-third of the population works in agriculture, over-application of pesticides is a serious health and environmental issue. Even farmers who may be applying the correct quantity of pesticides might be putting their health at risk by not taking adequate safety precautions. To combat this problem, the Sri Lanka Supporting Opportunities for Livelihoods Development (SOLID) project and its partner, CropLife Sri Lanka, are working with farmers to teach them to use pesticides more...

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3 Questions with Lainie Reisman: Preventing Crime and Violence in Mexico's Roughest Places


Lainie Reisman is a youth violence expert with 15 years of experience in development. She is currently Chemonics' chief of party for the USAID Prevención de la Violencia (JPV) project in Mexico. JPV is designed to strengthen the Mexican government’s ability, from the federal to municipal levels, to prevent crime and violence. JPV also works closely with civil society, the private sector, and academia. Your program is working in Juarez, Monterrey, and Tijuana, and other areas selected in part...

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In Focus: Responding to Floods in Georgia


After severe floods struck the Tianeti region of Georgia, many farmers lost their crops and animal feed — and along with it, their livelihoods. In response to the disaster, the USAID New Economic Opportunities Initiative (NEO) provided multi-mineral feed blocks to the farmer pictured above and others to sustain their livestock throughout the winter. To encourage long-term growth in rural Georgian communities, NEO encouraged governments, businesses, and individuals to create community-level...

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In Focus: Saving Mothers' Lives in Zambia


In this photo from 2014, a "change champion" in Zambia discusses how to ensure a safe pregnancy and delivery with mothers. USAID's Communications Support for Health (CSH) project engaged 350 chiefs and headmen through its change champion approach within its successful Mothers Alive campaign, which was designed to increase demand for and uptake of facility-based maternal health services to prevent deaths and complications related to pregnancy and birth. As part of the campaign, these traditional...

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Doina Nistor is chief of party for USAID’s Moldova Competitiveness Enhancement Through Workforce Development and Innovation (CE-WIN) project. She also served as chief of party for the predecessor projects, Competitiveness Enhancement and Enterprise Development (CEED) I and II. Before going into development, she worked in Moldova’s private sector. Q: CEED had success using USAID’s Global Development Alliance (GDA) model in Moldova’s information technology (IT) sector. Can you describe the...

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In Focus: Land Rights in Tajikistan


Shown here, a member of a dehkan farm reads land information materials provided by the Tajikistan Land Reform and Farm Restructuring Project (LRFRP) as part of an educational tour of the Sughd region. Dehkan farms are small, privately owned farms that have emerged in the former Soviet republic to replace the collective farming system. They are owned by individuals or families, for both household consumption and sale at local markets. Tajikistan LRFRP supports the continuing progress of dehkan farm...

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In Focus: Sustainable Livelihoods in Peru


In this photo, the owner of a small business in Ucayali, Peru, and an employee work with seeds from the Amazon rainforest. The business, Pro Mujer Oriente, employs 54 women to make handicrafts using tree materials. With the help of the Peru Environmental Management and Forest Governance Support Activity (Peru Bosques), Pro Mujer Oriente learned techniques to improve the quality of their handicrafts and organize their business more effectively. As a result, they have lowered their costs, increased...

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3 Questions with Aliyu Samaila on Improving Agriculture


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Featured on the SEEP Network: Our Work on E-Payments and Financial Inclusion


Earlier this year, Chemonics joined the SEEP Network—a global network of international development organizations dedicated to fighting poverty by promoting inclusive markets and financial systems. SEEP is active in 170 countries and reaches nearly 90 million households around the world. For years, we have been attending the annual conference and working side-by-side with SEEP Network members in the field. Now, as new members ourselves, we are eager to join in many of SEEP’s initiatives. Joining...

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3 Commentaries on Youth Development Worth Reading


Throughout March, Devex led an interactive online conversation called Youth Will that explored the power of youth to change their own future and those of their peers. Along with MasterCard Foundation, UN Habitat, and the Commonwealth Secretariat, Chemonics was proud to co-sponsor the conversation. Three of our youth development experts addressed pressing challenges in youth development and explored some promising ways forward in the commentaries below. Be sure to check them out! 4 Lessons on Youth...

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