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My first Brazilian Winter Experience

São Paulo and Latin America GBCHealth Members Meeting “Bom Dia” or “good day” in Brazilian Portuguese!  Although I just returned home (to NY) from Paris, I was on a plane the next morning for a long, but direct, flight to Brazil.  Traveling internationally for the purpose of improving global health is rather exciting and certainly worthwhile, but it is also physically and mentally demanding.  I started to understand and appreciate the convenience of technology and the ease of virtual meetings while engaging in all this travel, but with a strong caveat that I will share below.  When traveling the globe, for packing purposes, I have learned that one needs to consider in advance which hemisphere you are traveling from/to!  After landing in São Paulo, I realized it was winter in the southern hemisphere, but packed with summer clothes coming from the northern hemisphere!  Lesson learned!

So why did I travel to São Paulo? And why was it important for me to travel there?  GBCHealth convened a Latin America corporate engagement meeting in Brazil to kick off increased efforts for more global health activity in Latin America.  The meeting also strategically coincided with the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria meeting.

Left to Right: Aisha Taylor, GBCHealth, me, and Anna Thompson-Quaye, GBCHealth/PSD-Global Fund) at GBCHealth Global Fund Meeting, Brazil

By attending in person, I had the opportunity to deliver a presentation on the Healthy Women, Health Economies (HWHE) initiative and leverage the two leading programmatic efforts I am working on: the male engagement workplace program and a convening for women’s and girl’s health journalism training in South Africa.  It was important (and wonderful) to meet in-person some of the contacts from companies and NGOs that I have been electronically communicating with over the past few months.  Meeting and communicating with people face-to-face reinforces the value of productive and impactful relationship development which has always been a hallmark of the various positions I have held at Pfizer.  In fact, relationship development is so important that three of the nine Pfizer’s company values that I know so well are directly correlated and can be applied here: Customer Focus, Collaboration, and Respect for People.

A related example demonstrating the importance of these three values for relationship development would be the HWHE team connecting a Latin American member company to partner with a particular Brazilian NGO that focuses on gender equality.  This was win-win-win situation in the making for a focused women and girls health initiative partnership as we have been communicating for the last few months via email and conference calls. Despite these past efforts, our HWHE team could not seem to advocate the proper value through these attempted connections.  While both parties were interested, they appeared respectfully disengaged and reticent for some reason.  After my presentation at the GBCHealth meeting in Brazil, some face-to-face networking, value delivery and emphasis, as well as some clarified misperceptions on how entities can partner together, the company and the NGO have formally agreed to explore partnership as well adding another health service strategy that we had not considered prior!  Despite living in a world that is becoming heavily dependent on virtually technology and web-meetings (which I love for some things), this interaction demonstrates the power and value of face-to-face personal contact for bringing about positive change… even when you may not speak the same language! “Bom Noite” or “Good Night” in Brazilian Portuguese To improve your global health knowledge and awareness… please check out the acronyms and weblinks below: MNCH = Maternal Newborn Child Health ATM = AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria

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