GHIC 2020: Global Health & Innovation Conference
April 4-5, 2020 at Yale University and the Historic Shubert Theater
New Haven, Connecticut

Unite for Sight’s 2010 Global Health & Innovation Conference

Blog Report By Abby Hannifan, Unite For Sight Global Health Leadership Intern

Social Enterprise Pitches - Ideas in Development Session

This session was dynamically different than the other sessions I attended. In theory, sessions like these were supposed to act as idea-incubator workshops, offering enterprising individuals in development the opportunity to publicize their ideas while simultaneously allowing the audience to provide constructive feedback. I would like to in particular focus on the ideas proposed by Grant Peirce of Health for Humanity.

On Health for Humanity’s Web site, they make clear that they envision “a world in which all members of the human family have the resources and educational opportunities to address the health challenges of their communities and are able to shoulder leadership for their own well-being.” This mission was developed in response to WHO’s assertion that a dearth of competent, trained healthcare professionals is one of the most severe obstacles to the improvement of health and development outcomes. Health for Humanity’s two main areas of emphasis are technical training and health systems promotion and development. Grant was a big advocate of what he termed “values-based leadership,” a team-building method that doesn’t just focus on stereotypical leaders in healthcare (like doctors), but rather everyone involved in a community health program (nurses, lab technicians, local partners, schools, and members of other community organizations). Past projects have included ophthalmology training in Albania, pediatric rehabilitation and HIV/AIDS prevention in China, river blindness elimination in Cameroon, and promotion of global humanitarian service and conflict-resolution skills for children in an enrichment program in California, to name a few. Grant mentioned that by generating health for humanity, by humanity, the results are tangible—improved team communication and interpersonal interaction, increased productivity and consensus-building, and willingness to take initiative.

Health for Humanity’s value-based leadership program is based on the creative curriculum of Bolivia’s Nur University. This private institution’s moral leadership training program has encouraged people like Silvia Tarachi to revitalize their communities through build-up of social capital, an essential component of prosperity (for more on this widely discussed development term, read Francis Fukuyama’s article “Social Capital and Development: The Coming Agenda”). Silvia’s organization of a small service-oriented youth group in an impoverished shantytown of La Fortaleza has shown that even when social institutions are lacking, a well-functioning group can achieve much through community-focused ambition, teamwork, participatory involvement, and active civic engagement. Her initiative was chosen by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) as one of the 12 most successful youth projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. Silvia’s success is only one example of Nur University’s triumphs. Programs such as Silvia’s are popping up in Ecuador and Argentina as well.

What I appreciated most about Grant’s conversation was that while he claims his value-based leadership protocol can be easily adapted to different cultures, he was quick to clarify that the participants are the ones who define which values need to be accentuated and nourished through team-building exercises. All too often in development, outside agencies impose a Western-oriented set of values upon their target community. Health for Humanity is much more focused on providing a rudimentary framework that communities can adapt to suit their unique circumstances. By doing this, Health for Humanity is able to avoid the detrimental cookie-cutter development method—one that incorrectly assumes cultural authority, uniformity in best practices, and easy malleability of community values and traditions.

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