I first heard about EngenderHealth from my sister, who has shared a great deal with me about the inspirational work they do. EngenderHealth is an incredible nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health for women all across the world. They work to ensure that more people have access to reproductive health services that we often take for granted in our own lives. Among the many issues and EngenderHealth programs I’ve learned about, there are a couple that are particularly moving for me.
Before learning about EngenderHealth, I didn’t know that fistula was still such a huge cause for suffering for women in developing countries. It’s heartwrenching to think that a problem that is preventable can still affect so many women, simply because they don’t have the means to get proper health care. But EngenderHealth leads the biggest U.S.-funded project to address this problem. They’re committed to training more fistula surgeons, treating women who have lost all hope, and most importantly, educating women so they can avoid getting fistula in the first place. The documented success stories from women who recovered from fistula show the dramatic impact that EngenderHealth is having on people’s lives.
Stopping the spread of HIV is obviously another critical global issue that is important to me. Ignorance and lack of knowledge are key drivers in the spread of HIV and inevitably lead to fear and stigmatization. I think EngenderHealth is doing great work by focusing on reducing stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV while also becoming a leader in expanding access to treatment, especially in African countries that are hardest hit by the virus.
I was recently asked to assess the organization’s external affairs activities and found considerable strength and capacity. The Board has completed a strategic planning process and a cross functional team of leadership staff and directors is systematically involved in implementation of the findings. The communications program is first rate, effectively reaching a variety of constituents in the professional community and the general public. Outreach and information are attractive and compelling. There is a large and loyal base of supporters and advocates, and the Board and CEO are engaged in broad resource development in the public and, increasingly, in the private sectors. EngenderHealth is called on by its peers to provide superb technical programs in the field, and the depth and respect of the programs abroad is driving new organization wide energy and efforts for expansion.
EngenderHealth is a unique organization that supports local health professionals provide the best care possible to people and communities in more than 25 countries. They don't run clinics, EngenderHealth partners with governments to ensure that women and men have family planning, maternal health, and HIV services. I've traveled to many poor places, the best that any organization can do is to support local efforts by the community, for the community. That equals sustainability.