By Jennifer Farrington, Senior Director of Social Investing and Vice President of the BD Foundation, and Caitlin Asjes, Senior Director of Global Public Health
International Women’s Day (IWD) 2022 challenges each of us to #BreakTheBias by imagining, and working toward, a gender equal world – one that is diverse, equitable and inclusive.
At BD, one of the many ways we heed the call to #BreaktheBias in communities around the world is by partnering with NGOs to make philanthropic investments in women-focused health programs. Investing our resources to do what’s right, in this case by ensuring more women and girls have access to quality healthcare so they can live healthy, productive lives, is a key component of our environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy, Together We Advance.
We have long believed that investments in women’s health deliver huge returns for not just women, but also for the entire families that women lead and support. Indeed, prioritizing and investing in women’s health is one of the best ways to improve overall population health and create more productive, resilient communities. Here are just a few of the examples of how we put that knowledge to work, through our social investments:
- We’re helping to advance maternal health and reduce avoidable newborn deaths: Although maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) has been all but eliminated in most economically advanced countries, it still kills one newborn every 21 minutes, or approximately 68 newborns every day. Knowing that MNT is entirely preventable with immunizations and consistent health services for mothers, BD created the neonatal tetanus immunization program with UNICEF in 1998. The program ensures mothers in remote geographic regions that experience high rates of MNT have access to life-saving immunizations and gynecological care. Since its inception of the program in 1997, with the help of $10.8 million in funding from BD, newborn deaths from MNT have declined by 88%.
Another great example of this work is our partnership with CMMB, an international NGO that is transforming the lives of women and children by tackling the deep-rooted causes of avoidable morbidity and mortality. Through our support of its Children and Mothers Partnership (CHAMPS), we’ve helped more than 35,000 pregnant women and newborns receive life-saving medical care from doctors and nurses in Zambia.
- We’re helping U.S. free clinics and community health centers expand women’s health services to patients who otherwise would have no healthcare access. A great example is our long-term partnership with the BVMI Healthcare Center in Bergen County, N.J., where our global headquarters is located. At BVMI, a team of more than 75 volunteer healthcare professionals provides quality care to a diverse population of more than 1,200 patients – many of whom may not otherwise have healthcare access. BD sponsored the launch of their BVMI Women’s Health Initiative, which provides specialized, high-quality, compassionate healthcare services for nearly 800 women. On a national scale, BD has invested more than $30 million in helping safety net clinics like BVMI expand quality care to underserved patients.
- We’re helping to eliminate violence against girls. We know that the health and trauma-related consequences of sexual violence against children can have a devastating impact on their ability to live and experience life at their full potential. That’s why we make strategic philanthropic investments in organizations like Together for Girls, which work to prevent sexual violence so all children can have a chance to realize their full potential. We have also partnered with members of our Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) associate resource group to educate BD employees about how they can protect children from sexual violence, which disproportionately impacts girls.
- We’re supporting women’s access to cervical cancer and breast cancer screening around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic caused disruptions in many parts of healthcare, including life-saving screenings for breast, cervical and other cancers. Last fall, BD contributed $500,000 to support the American Cancer Society’s mission to expand and accelerate cancer screening. This continues BD’s and BD associates’ longstanding history of contributions to ACS. In South Africa, BD is partnering with PinkDrive to support their innovative work to deliver mobile cervical and breast cancer screening to communities who currently lack screening access.
These are just a few examples of how we strategically invest and partner with leading NGOs to improve women’s health. Our position as a leading, global med-tech company also calls us to make social investments in programs that seek to cultivate the next generation of female science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) leaders, to do our part to #BreaktheBias when it comes to equal gender representation in med-tech and other industries, too.
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