Developing Health Globally

How it works

Tackling the world’s toughest challenges is something the GE Foundation sets out to do. With that in mind, in 2004 the Foundation launched Developing Health Globally™ (DHG), aiming to improve healthcare delivery for some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. The program focuses on simple interventions and works to improve access to healthcare through capacity-building initiatives in 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

The DHG program is built around four core pillars: clinical practice, capacity-building, social determinants and infrastructure and technology. GE creates sustainable impact through smart investing, leveraging GE expertise and engaging committed partners. GE Foundation collaborates and partners with ministries of health to identify public hospitals and clinics most in need, and then provides tools, technology and training to upgrade these district-level facilities.

A unique aspect of Developing Health Globally is the team of local GE leaders who work with facilities to deliver skills-based leadership and GE volunteer support. These GE employee ambassadors nurture relationships and help promote active participation, ownership and accountability to achieve positive change.

Importantly, our NGO and academic partners are actively involved in the DHG program work in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Assist International, for example, is a key operational partner, helping to support and coordinate local programs and initiatives. Some of our partners provide local context and knowledge to ensure successful implementation, while others contribute their expertise and know-how to support implementation, capacity-building and follow-up evaluation.

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15M

lives touched each year

16

countries

$100M

toward improving lives

10

years of DHG

Programs and Impact

Some examples of the Developing Health Globally program outcomes to date include:

  • In Rwanda, biomedical engineering training programs, delivered by trained technicians, have helped to disseminate technical knowledge of basic medical equipment management, troubleshooting and repairs at the local-hospital level. As a result, improvements in problem resolution (+25%) and equipment downtime (-35%) were observed across 32 district-level hospitals.
  • In Ghana, the GE Foundation has invested in clinical training in trauma care and emergency medical practices to build human capacity. Together with ultrasound and vital-signs-monitoring training, emergency care has been transformed in settings like Kintampo Hospital—where increased emergency department capacity (+10%) and reduced wait time (-40%) are early indicators of improved results.
  • In East Africa, clinicians have reported improved monitoring and anesthesia dosing capability, faster patient recovery time, and greater confidence in overall anesthesia management. In addition, average yearly cost savings of 20% have been realized in district hospitals that are now capable of producing oxygen. Access to oxygen in Africa is limited, expensive and unreliable, yet it can reduce the top 6 leading causes of child mortality by up to 35%.
  • In countries like Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Cambodia, anesthesia equipment, ventilators, patient monitors and oxygen-producing equipment are transforming surgery practices and improving patient outcomes.

Through its Developing Health programs, the GE Foundation touches the lives of more than 15 million people worldwide each year. Celebrating its 10th year in 2014, the Developing Health Globally program has invested over $120 million and reached over 254 hospitals and health centers, making an impact on clinical practice, patient outcomes and community well-being around the world.

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Focus Areas

Clinical Practice

Capacity-Building

Social Determinants

Infrastructure & Technology

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GE Foundation strives to make our communities stronger all over the world. When approximately 800 women—mostly in poor rural communities—die each day from complications during pregnancy and childbirth, a lot can be done. DHG focuses on clinical practices to increase the number of skilled healthcare workers and improve timely healthcare interventions and accurate diagnoses. Simple interventions can have meaningful impact.

Global CPAP for Respiratory Distress in Children

Respiratory distress in children is a common health problem, which often results from another health issue. To give health workers more time to diagnose the underlying problem, the GE Foundation works with Columbia University’s Systems Improvement at District Hospitals and Regional Training of Emergency Care (sidHARTe) program to provide Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) equipment, which helps to increase airflow in children with respiratory distress.

Local health providers are trained on the CPAP equipment, learning to recognize respiratory distress, repeat vital signs in critically ill patients and understand the role of oxygen support. We are committed to reaching rural populations who would otherwise lack access to lifesaving care and ensuring local ownership and sustainability by working closely with public institutions.

Maternal Child Health Interventions

DHG’s focus on innovative solutions that have a lasting impact led to our partnership with Jhpiego, an international non-profit organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, in Uganda, Myanmar and Indonesia. We build on their expertise in maternal and infant care, providing low-cost solutions and approaches to health challenges. This prevents needless deaths in developing countries by combatting the three delays: delay in the decision to seek care, delay in reaching care and delay in receiving adequate healthcare. We work together on the Maternal and Newborn Health (MNH) project to improve the quality of key maternal and newborn health services at health facilities. We are working to upgrade the skills of health workers, support target facilities to implement the Standards-Based Management and Recognition (SBM-®) quality and performance-improvement approach, and support enhanced community awareness of and access to facility-based maternal and newborn health services.

Health Worker Clinical Training

The GE Foundation works with the Center for Public Health and Development (CPHD) to improve health systems through training and other innovations. Together, we work to combine local capacity with global knowledge, empowering public-health-sector workers and increasing access to better health services. CPHD leverages extensive networks and expertise in Africa to improve health and achieve equity in health outcomes for all people in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. We increase capacity at referral hospitals by identifying and filling skills gaps through training and mentoring, like providing complementary clinical-skills training in ultrasound, newborn, maternal and anesthesia/critical care.

Emergency/Trauma Care Practice Implementation

Emergency and trauma care is insufficient in many regions where the GE Foundation works. GE Foundation’s partner, Columbia University’s Systems Improvement at District Hospitals and Regional Training of Emergency Care program (sidHARTe), works to strengthen emergency medical care in Ghana and Rwanda by training physicians and midlevel healthcare providers, improving operational processes such as triage and referral, and monitoring and evaluating associated outcomes. Providing expertise in emergency medicine, trauma management and referral processes can improve acute care using limited resources.

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Building technical and clinical skills and equipping health facilities with the right technology can build capacity, having a sustainable impact for years to come. In sub-Saharan Africa, WHO estimates that as much as 70% of laboratory and medical equipment is partially or completely out of service, and timely access to emergency care can reduce seven of the 15 leading causes of death. Yet training technicians to fix and maintain equipment and improving basic medical skills are simple solutions to reduce the number of preventable deaths.

DHG is tackling these problems in resource-poor settings and helping ministries of health build emergency-medicine capacity to treat acutely ill patients in district hospitals—upgrading equipment to provide patient monitoring, ventilation, X-ray, ultrasound, laboratory analysis and consistent access to water, oxygen and power.

Biomedical Engineering Technician Training

Led by Engineering World Health and Duke University, the GE Foundation supports a biomedical engineering training curriculum that helps to promote—and sustain—equipment repair and maintenance in DHG communities. These local biomedical technology-training programs focus on repairing—versus replacing—equipment using available resources, and educating the first generation of biomedical technicians to support ministry of health facilities and assets. We aim to provide ongoing coaching and mentoring resources to cultivate a professional community of biomedical technicians who are able to support the technical needs of public district hospitals and health centers. Engineering World Health (EWH) has tailored the curriculum for different countries and educational partners, and, in partnership with Duke University, is evaluating its impact.

Nurse Anesthetist Training

Essential infrastructure and trained health workers can prevent disease, disability and mortality in Kenya, but they are often overlooked. Trained anesthesia health workers, for example, are a critical need. Collaborating with ministries of health to create in-country training that aligns with academic institutions and local communities, we have trained and accredited nurses in anesthesia. The program also gives qualified medical doctors postgraduate training to become anesthesiologists and provides physician assistants with further training in anesthesiology.

The Center for Public Health and Development (CPHD) provides in-country support to ensure sustainable improvements and local ownership. CPHD focuses on strengthening capacity in the public health system in sub-Saharan Africa through practical skills-building, combining local capacity with global knowledge to empower public-health-sector workers and improving healthcare through new technology.

Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program

The GE Foundation partnered with the Harvard School of Public Health, the Harvard Kennedy School and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation on the Harvard Ministerial Leadership program to engage currently serving health and finance ministers in an intensive leadership program that combines problem analysis with practical tools and approaches, informed by international experience. The goal is to enhance the ministerial effectiveness and political leadership of these ministers in Africa, Latin America and South East Asia, while aiming to increase national investment in health and improve socio-economic development in these countries.

GE-NMF Global Health Scholars Program

The GE Foundation considers building a cadre of global health practitioners essential to strengthening population health and local hospital capacity. The GE-NMF (National Medical Fellowships) International Medical Scholars Program provides a two-month mentored clinical experience in the primary healthcare setting in Ghana and Kenya that includes clinical rotation, professional improvement projects, team assessments and local skills training. This program provides opportunities to learn about the management of acutely ill patients, and scholars are actively involved in healthcare delivery and institutional evaluation relevant to their academic programs. Partners, including host hospitals, national health services and academic institutions, are the backbone of the program, which aims to strengthen staff capacity at hospitals, support practice changes to improve service delivery, improve scholars’ clinical and diagnostic skills and inspire a lasting commitment to global health practice.

NMF provides externships in Ghana and Kenya for underrepresented U.S. minority medical students who share valuable expertise, insight and technical know-how with hospital staff at partnering DHG sites. NMF also provides service-learning opportunities to nursing, physician assistant and medical students and offers scholarships to medical students based on financial need, experience and merit.

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Getting people on their feet, or back on their feet, is work that the GE Foundation is proud to do—and the DHG program aims to improve the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. Whether it is increasing confidence and independence in girls through access to education, or providing necessary supplies to those who have lost everything after a natural disaster, the GE Foundation and GE employees are ready to help.

Girls Education

A 2007 UNICEF study states that educated women are less likely to die in childbirth and are more likely to send their children to school. The under-five mortality rate also falls by about half for mothers with primary school education. In targeted communities surrounding our partner district hospitals, DHG has sponsored education programs to ensure girls and other vulnerable children have access to education. The GE Foundation works with FHI 360 to improve access to quality primary and secondary education for girls and other vulnerable children in DHG communities. Through the Four Pillars PLUS program, it provides scholarships, girls’ mentoring, teacher professional development, and community participation guidance.

Girls are equipped with life-saving knowledge, learning health risks and complications and how to avoid them. The programs also teach girls vocational skills, identifying labor market needs and offering secondary school students the appropriate vocational training. Higher education can also increase the chance of employment, which empowers girls and women, boosting confidence, independence and access to opportunities.

Disaster Response

To help those in urgent need, the GE Foundation responds as a partner in disaster response and readiness. We proactively communicate our disaster relief approach to GE employees, who are always ready to help. Matched 1:1 by the GE Foundation, employees donate to disaster-relief organizations such as the International Red Cross, American Red Cross and UNICEF. So far in 2014, GE employees have pledged more than $100,000. On the ground, GE volunteers also contribute through networks at the disaster site, organizing local support and aligning GE employees in the region.

The GE Foundation uses all of its resources to help in addition to its people. It donates products to address needs caused by natural disasters. After the earthquake in Haiti, we donated solar-powered water-purification units, anesthesia, ventilators, portable ultrasounds, monitors and analog and mobile digital X-rays. A GE Foundation grant to AmeriCares has helped to handle increased volumes of donated medicine and supplies, has strengthened delivery through network expansion and IT enhancements, and has relieved key capacity constraints for free clinics through more-efficient access to resources. The GE Foundation has also provided support for longer-term housing, physical and mental health services, food banks and local economic recovery in hard-hit communities.

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DHG empowers communities in the developing world by equipping health facilities with technology and infrastructure and providing GE expertise. The GE Foundation strengthens healthcare systems by upgrading equipment and infrastructure and providing training and support to ensure success and sustainability. Basic needs, like access to water and oxygen, are met through the GE Foundation’s programs, which seek to find simple solutions to save lives.

Safe Water

WHO estimates that more than 780 million people use unsafe drinking water. In response, the GE Foundation, together with GE Water, Assist International and Dalberg Consulting, is supporting programs to design and install small-scale water purification units for community clinics and birthing centers to provide access to safe water for local communities. Working with our partners, we have developed and deployed water-quality analysis protocols and visual tools to help demystify water quality testing in rural facilities. We also encourage local facility leaders to actively manage equipment and adopt chlorination practices.

The Emory University Center for Global Safe Water (CGSW) works to evaluate needs for safe water and promote changes in practice through research, training and capacity-building. The CGSW examines the costs and cost savings for clinical and hospital water treatment systems, and evaluates the water quality and quantity provided by these systems. They also evaluate the adoption and impact of the safe drinking water provided by clinics to the local population. The results from these studies will inform implementation of small, institutionally managed water systems in resource-poor settings.

Oxygen—Public Private Partnership Model

Oxygen can reduce the top six leading causes of child mortality by up to 35%, but access to oxygen in Africa is limited, expensive and unreliable. The GE Foundation has introduced modern practices related to anesthesia delivery and monitoring, as well as oxygen therapy and ventilation, which improve outcomes for patients requiring surgery. WHO also estimates that 11% of total healthy years are lost due to a lack of simple surgery that can be performed to prevent death or permanent disabilities. Through a Public Private Partnership model that includes sourcing and delivering oxygen, maintaining equipment, providing oxygen accessories, such as masks and tubes, and training on how to administer oxygen, the GE Foundation is enabling more access to these simple surgeries that can save lives.

mHealth for Maternal Child Health Programs

The GE Foundation works with UNICEF to develop, implement and scale an innovative approach to health interventions and service delivery using mobile health technology. This approach, called RapidSMS, enhances the ability of community health workers and health facilities to track the continuum of care for mothers and children using mobile phones. This simple intervention puts quicker, life-saving diagnoses at health workers’ fingertips.

Building on the current Jhpiego-USAID program, EMAS (Expanding Maternal and Newborn Survival), we are also working to provide SMS text messaging to midwives which will expand their ability to connect with new mothers and follow up on their care in the 30 days after delivery through innovative, low-cost mobile technology approaches (mHealth). The GE Foundation is also working with Jhpiego to improve knowledge about antenatal and postnatal care and increase the use of high-quality services during pregnancy and the newborn period. The anticipated reach of the program is 1 million mothers over the next three years.

Base of the Pyramid Technologies

The Base of the Pyramid Technologies highlights the active participation, ownership and accountability across all players to achieve positive change. The project brings together the GE Foundation, Jhpiego and the Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design (CBID) to bring transformational change to the quality and scale of healthcare services by addressing process-related health challenges. To tackle priority global-health needs, appropriate technology is identified and created, or an alternate solution is found. The project supports those who do not have the required skills to use advanced technology.

The solutions created are affordable, evidence-based and developed collaboratively and responsibly to ensure local buy-in and implementation. The project aims to foster innovation and leadership to improve healthcare using technology. GE Foundation’s support has been instrumental in enabling Jhpiego and CBID to maximize the potential of the project to develop solutions that improve health outcomes.

Developing Health Globally focuses on clinical practice, capacity-building, social determinants and infrastructure. Explore the tiles above to learn more.