Prioritizing Reproductive Health in 2017

This post originally appeared on the Linked Foundation website on February 16, 2017. The Linked Foundation has been my client since 2014. I play a leading role in guiding the foundation's grant making and program related investment strategy and research and learning activities. 

In 2017 we find ourselves assessing a new global health landscape, and a shifting set of challenges. The reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule (or “Mexico City Policy”) by the Trump administration means that organizations worldwide providing women’s health services will lose significant funding, and the women they serve will suffer the consequences. Populations to suffer the most will be those most dependent upon NGO and private sources of care; in other words, the poorest and most marginalized.

The Gag Rule states that any organization receiving US government funding must agree not to provide or even mention abortion as any part of its services, including counseling or referral, even if those services are delivered using other sources of funding. PAI estimates that the amount of government funding to global health organizations that will be subjected to the rule is $9.5 billion. The global health community agrees that such a potentially huge loss of funding to organizations that provide reproductive health services will result in an increase of unintended pregnancies, an increase in unsafe abortions, and as a result, increased maternal mortality. We will be monitoring US policy changes that may impact women’s health care in the United States as well.

At Linked Foundation, our mission is to support the health and economic self-reliance of women and their families in Latin America and the US. To-date, we have done this by supporting a number of social enterprises and NGOs providing a range of health services, from microfinance + health education, to rural pharmacies, to holistic diabetes care and more. In light of both the continued need for reproductive health services and the potential impact of new regulation that will severely limit funding for this type of care, Linked Foundation has made a strategic decision that all support to new organizations in 2017 will be to those with an explicit reproductive health focus.

In the coming months we will be reaching out and connecting with organizations in Latin America and the US that provide these critical women’s health services – pelvic exams, cervical cancer screening, contraceptives, prenatal and maternal care, and more – to learn about their work and any opportunities for partnership. We will also convene funders with similar objectives to engage in shared-learning and funding opportunities. Through partnerships with organizations and like-minded funders working on the front lines to assure continued access to reproductive health care, we aim play a role in counteracting the potentially devastating effects of these new policies on the health and wellbeing of women in the Americas.

A firsthand look into Mexico’s Health Social Enterprise Landscape

A firsthand look into Mexico’s Health Social Enterprise Landscape

The last few years have seen huge advances for these market-based health solutions globally, including in Latin America – particularly in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. In July I had the opportunity to visit some of these budding health social enterprises in Mexico on behalf of my client Linked Foundation, and with our colleagues at Global Partnerships

Social Enterprises are Disrupting Health Care and Chronic Disease in Latin America

Social Enterprises are Disrupting Health Care and Chronic Disease in Latin America

Earlier this month Linked Foundation Executive Director Nancy Swanson and I had the opportunity to attend Innovations in Healthcare's 5th annual forum in Washington D.C. Healthcare innovators and investors from around the globe came to "connect, collaborate and learn" as they work to build sustainable solutions to health challenges. Private sector health solutions are rapidly growing, even in Latin America, where government health systems play a huge role in healthcare delivery. Because of the large government role in healthcare, the region has often been considered unviable territory for health social enterprises - but as existing government structures have fallen short in their ability to provide timely, high quality services to the people who depend on them, private sector complimentary solutions have been increasingly present to fill the void.

BOSI Mexico Rural Pharmacy Pilot: Making the most of data to design for success

BOSI Mexico Rural Pharmacy Pilot: Making the most of data to design for success

Last month, the Linked Foundation and Mercy Corps Guatemala teams visited the first three rural pharmacies in Puebla, Mexico that are part of the Boticas Simiares (BOSI) pilot program led by Farmacias Simiares. As Nancy described, it was incredible to see what has been accomplished in just a few months. Three women-owned small pharmacies are selling low-cost, high quality medicines in areas that had little access to medicines before, and where transportation costs to larger towns where those medicines are available are prohibitively high.

Development Blogroll

Here are a few of my favorite blogs and sites to keep up on international development, global health, social enterprise and M&E news, musings and debates.


Next Billion: Development through enterprise

Center for Global Development: Independent research for global prosperity

Innovations for Poverty Action blog: More evidence, less poverty. IPA uses rigorous evaluation to find solutions to poverty that work. 

Chris Blattman: Columbia professor who uses field work and statistics to study poverty, political engagement, the causes and consequences of violence, and policy in developing countries. 

Humanosphere: Covering global health, poverty and inequity because we give a damn.

Stanford Social Innovation Review: Informing and inspiring leaders of social change