Reflections from CEO on our new strategy: elimination is not the end

It isn’t easy to decide on a new direction for a company. It’s also a great opportunity to take a broader view of what we are doing and why.

This allows us to “zoom out” of our daily focus and see the important opportunities that can make a lasting impact. It also helps us to avoid ignoring threats that may undermine our success.

The larger picture

An example from my life illustrates this.

My daughter, who was four years old at the time, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes three years ago. She became totally dependent on insulin. Our UK health service provides her with free access to highly advanced technology that monitors and regulates her insulin levels.

We reviewed the local healthcare services in case an emergency occurred when we visited relatives in Arusha, Tanzania. We soon realized that there was no diabetes care or insulin available at any of the local health facilities, and even Dar es Salaam’s supply was not reliable. The reality of mothers with diabetic children in this region deeply moved me.

I almost forgot about my training in public health and thought for a second that I could bring enough insulin with me to supply Arusha. I knew that diabetes was a chronic disease and that a robust system would be needed to not only provide a reliable supply of insulin but also to train and support families and individuals to deal with its complications. Even though it would be nice to bring a single supply of insulin, this would not make a significant difference in terms of the health care situation for the people living there.

This moment, even after a career in public healthcare, brought to life the inequity in health experienced by many.

It made me think about the work that we do.

We work in global healthcare because we want to “do something worthwhile.” It is easy to forget the fact that the way we deliver something could end up contributing to the problem. The strategic shifts that we were making became more important as we realized how we needed to change our work.

What does it mean to us in terms of practicality?

It is not the first change we have made to our Strategy. Our previous Strategy, which was originally designed as a disease control initiative focusing on specific interventions, took a broader approach. It included primary prevention and treatment elements along with our mainstay of mass-treating parasitic infections.

Now, we see that the shift was not enough. We now see that this shift did not go far enough.

What will we do differently?

We are proud of the achievements we have made to date. This includes supporting one billion treatments for parasitic infections. A milestone was achieved on our 20th anniversary last year. Our new Strategy will be based on the goal of ending parasitic infections that are preventable and improving health equity.

In practice, it means that we build on our legacy and expand our work to encompass other important aspects, such as improving the quality of programs and their impact and supporting cross-sectoral collaboration. It is also important to shift the power imbalance that undermines country ownership health system resilience and further embeds inequality.

We will not view interventions as the starting place. Still, we will respond to the needs of our colleagues in endemic countries to support local health systems to deliver programs that are tailored to their context.

It may seem obvious, but these steps represent a major departure from how we have been operating up to now. We must be careful that as a partner organization based outside the countries we support, the way we work does not create structures, power dynamics, or systems that are detrimental to the goals we all share.

Our organization has always been committed to not having offices in any country, mainly because it wanted to avoid the possibility of parallel structures being set up. We need to modify our processes and work methods to challenge and transform the remaining barriers that prevent health systems from being resilient, country ownership, and health equity. What we do is just as important as How.

In order to achieve this, we will not only need to engage new funders but also support our country partners in mobilizing their resources. This is a totally different way of working, but it’s essential for the change we are trying to achieve.

Zooming in – Why We Do What We Do

In 2002, we were established as the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative. At that time, our name reflected exactly what we did. In the past few years, things have changed in both global health and disease control. The focus has shifted from program-driven aid towards strengthening health systems. My opinion is that our work and the work of the wider NTD community should also support the broader agenda of equity in health and resilience of health systems by responding to the needs of our Ministry of Health client, who are ultimately responsible for the health of all their citizens, not just their NTD status.

Unlimited Health is a new name that reflects our unique mission of promoting health for everyone. In our new slogan, we aim to eliminate parasitic diseases collectively.

With our new Strategy, we are confident that this new brand will enable us to support country-owned solutions that eliminate parasitic infection for good.

Professor Gyapong:

“With less that a decade left to achieve sustainable development goals, and plans to implement an entirely new strategy, my co-President Dr Wendy Harrison and myself pledge to work closely with key stakeholders to identify and address current global health challenges as best we can.”

“I am thrilled to contribute as coPresident. I will bring together a diverse array of global experts to not only drive RSTMH’s priorities forward but also to address the broader challenges we face today in the changing global health landscape,” said Dr Harrison.

RSTMH aims to improve tropical medicine through increased awareness.

Access and equity in global health care

Unlimited Health congratulates Professor Gyapong and Dr Harrison on their respective awards.

RSTMH wishes RSTMH all the best in their future priorities.

If Ponzi Pinot Noir is better, then it’s a no-brainer. Is this wine from Italy? No. It’s Oregon. It’s Pinot Noir. Every sommelier in the world (except for a few who love odd grapes such as Ploussard) believes that Pinot Noir is the best red grape to pair with anything. What more could you want? Berry fruit, fine tannins, and a bright acidity that goes well with pepperoni.

Except maybe everyone’s longtime pizza go-to, Chianti. Tenuta di Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva would be the 3-1 favorite if there were betting odds in Vegas for this tasting. It’s a sure thing. Spicy, firm, with lots of dark fruit notes. From a top Tuscan producer. Winner-winner pizza dinner. Unless, of course, one of the other winners. Anyone who lives in 2020 will know that life is full of surprises.



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