In 2010, the GE Developing Health Globally™ (DHG) signature program expanded its reach, continuing to partner with ministries of health to upgrade government-operated health centers and hospitals in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. The total number of sites touched since program inception now exceeds 150. Total program investment, including supporting grants from GE Foundation, now totals more than $50 million.
District level hospitals—the “primary care home” for most underserved populations in the developing world—have benefited from upgrades to basic infrastructure as well as key care areas, including the operating theater, emergency department, radiology unit, and maternity and nursery wards. Included in the upgrades are much-needed equipment and supplies, installation support, and training for use and care of new equipment. This combination of provision and support, in partnership with the host ministries of health, has proven to be an effective intervention for driving significant, sustainable improvement in the public healthcare delivery system.
GE employees from the Company’s Affinity networks continue to participate in the program by serving as volunteer ambassadors to monitor hospital performance and help address local problems.
To further support the district hospitals where GE is actively involved today, increasing emphasis has been placed on supporting the maternal and infant care needs of the numerous clinics and health centers that surround each district hospital. These small, day facilities are meant to treat simple health needs at the local community level, reducing the need for travel and transport of sick patients. When functioning sufficiently, the local health centers treat a significant volume of patients, which successfully and effectively preserves district hospital capacity for more serious illnesses and acute care needs. By providing emergency obstetric care equipment and materials to these facilities, GE’s intent is to help each district improve its attended birthing rate, as well as improve overall maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates.
In the area of skill building, the Developing Health Globally™ program has initiated partnerships with several leading global public health institutions and clinical medicine experts to build local capacity and drive improvements in primary care. Programs focusing on infection-prevention practices, biomedical repair capacity-building, trauma referral processes, and ultrasound proficiency for maternal care and trauma treatment are operating in multiple locations and increasing the impact of initial equipment donations.
GE’s partnership with the Columbia-Cornell School of Emergency Medicine has resulted in the creation and launch of a premier emergency medicine training program, sidHARTe (Systems Improvement at District Hospitals and Regional Training of Emergency Care). This initiative targets mid-level practitioners, who are often the most skilled practitioners available to deal with district hospital emergencies, and equips them with the process and clinical skills needed to make best use of scarce resources to treat emergent patients. This model program was implemented in Ghana and is now under way in Rwanda through partnerships with the ministries of health and a consortium of U.S.-based physicians supported by the GE Foundation.
Overall, DHG program efforts have raised awareness of developing-country opportunities. “Base of the Pyramid” markets have been elevated as viable future consumer bases throughout the Company, and this is now an area that the Company is actively pursuing. The recently announced partnership with Embrace came through new market initiatives that link to the resulting success of GE’s philanthropic programs.
Another product success story with philanthropic roots is the partnership with SunSpring to commercialize a small, solar-powered, water purification machine that incorporates GE’s ultra-filtration technology and runs on solar power. The idea began with GE’s disaster relief efforts on tsunami, was deployed in response to the Haiti earthquake and was recently validated as a GE healthymagination product.