May 20, 2013 - May 28, 2013
Volunteerism and Universal Health Coverage: Side Event of the 66th World Health Assembly
22 May 2013
Co-hosted by the Governments of Mexico and Zambia, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), GBCHealth and Pfizer’s Global Health Fellows Program.
With the approach of 2015, the development field has begun to discuss the post-Millennium Development Goal agenda. Universal health coverage has gained attention in both public and private sectors as a potential new goal. This ambitious goal-- to provide access to adequate healthcare to all at an affordable price—will require strategic expansions of the health provider networks. While governments remain the number one provider of health services, weak health systems infrastructure and insufficient human resources remain barriers to increased health coverage. Skilled volunteers—including community health workers, NGO volunteers and skilled corporate volunteers—can help bridge this gap.
GBCHealth Executive Director Michael Schreiber spoke to the growing appeal among corporations of sending volunteers to international skills-based volunteering projects. While employees may be gone from their desk jobs for a short time during a corporate volunteer engagement, the opportunity to volunteer is a draw for talented millennial employees who want to use their skills to create greater good. Additionally, international corporate volunteer programs make sense from a business perspective. They create future leaders with global skills and a better understanding of critical emerging markets.
Volunteers have already been integral in many public health efforts. Dr. Eduardo Jaramillo Naverrete gave the example of Mexico achieving a universal rate of immunization by the mid-1980s, facilitated by the work of volunteers. Other speakers emphasized the importance of recruiting skilled volunteers and providing adequate training. For Dr. Dorien Mulder of PharmAccess Foundation, skills are the primary driver for its partnership with Pfizer Global Health Fellows. Pfizer’s international corporate volunteering program sends Pfizer employees to nonprofits and government partners to use their corporate skills to strengthen project development and implementation. Mulder remarked that engaging skilled corporate volunteers delivers results for both recipient organization and the corporation.
Click here to read IFRC’s event summary.