Sustainability as a Calling

 According to the United Nations, good health is a critical component of sustainable development. But in many parts of the world public health systems and services are not equipped to support community health – which limits people, societies and economies.

Business has a vital role to play in addressing these gaps. By working in collaboration with governments and communities, business expertise, resources and sustainable approaches can help drive systemic change.

That’s why nearly twenty years ago, Abbott and its foundation, the Abbott Fund, began working on a unique public-private partnership to reimagine what health could be in Tanzania. Working together, the partnership strengthened the health system and empowered people to build healthier communities, from the national hospital to rural villages.

A proven model for sustainability 

With few resources and facilities, Tanzania has long faced significant challenges in healthcare.

The partnership invested in infrastructure, training and systems. This included creating the country’s first emergency medicine department and residency training program, providing critical care for 60,000 people a year. A modern outpatient department serves 1,000 people a day, strengthening care for infectious diseases like HIV and noncommunicable diseases like diabetes. As a result of this work, the number of deaths at the hospital dropped by 40 percent, saving thousands of lives each year.

Modernizing labs and technology was another area of focus. Drawing on Abbott’s expertise in diagnostics, the partnership modernized the national lab and built new labs at 23 regional hospitals, extending the reach of testing across the country.

Building livelihoods in communities

The Abbott Fund’s community work in Tanzania strives to help build productive livelihoods for families and communities. This includes a program that provides a dairy cow to families that care for orphaned and vulnerable children. That cow produces milk for the family to consume and sell improving household nutrition and income. When the cow births its first female calf, the family gifts the calf to another family in need.

Another program provides paralegal training to thousands of volunteers to help protect the rights of women and children. In small villages, women are taught record keeping, business development, co-op formation and income management — skills that help make the paralegal program.

Building livelihoods in communities

The Abbott Fund’s community work in Tanzania strives to help build productive livelihoods for families and communities. This includes a program that provides a dairy cow to families that care for orphaned and vulnerable children. That cow produces milk for the family to consume and sell improving household nutrition and income. When the cow births its first female calf, the family gifts the calf to another family in need.

Another program provides paralegal training to thousands of volunteers to help protect the rights of women and children. In small villages, women are taught record keeping, business development, co-op formation and income management — skills that help make the paralegal program sustainable. These projects provide income that families can invest in key needs.

Partnerships make sustainability possible 

When Abbott CEO Miles White made his first trip to Tanzania nearly 20 years ago, the company brought unique diagnostics experience, technical expertise and business perspective. Anna Abdallah, then Minister of Health, provided invaluable insight on challenges facing the country, advising the Abbott Fund on what was most needed.

But the most important partnership has been with the Tanzanian people. Abbott employees provided over 65,000 hours of on-the-ground technical support and training, but Tanzanian health workers and community leaders have led the way in driving the change needed to strengthen healthcare and communities across the country.

It is through these robust partnerships that business can help catalyze progress toward the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals – delivering a better future for us all.