Reflections from Our Board Chair and President & CEO
The year 2020 has been remarkable. It has been a year of trial and unforeseen challenges. It has also been a year of resiliency, hope, and love, as seen through the eyes of the people we serve.
Sister Rosemary Moynihan, Board Chair, and Mary Beth Powers, President & CEO, reflect on the year 2020 in the context of COVID-19. They send thanks for your continued support, and for sharing in our vision that health and human dignity should be shared by all. Read their reflections below.
COVID-19: Preparing Facilities, Frontline Workers, and Families
An unwavering commitment and extensive experience helped deliver an immediate, effective response.
CMMB has built a strong base of trust with national governments, partner organizations, and local communities through its excellence in service delivery and its long-term commitments. Over many years of work, CMMB has laid an operational foundation within local communities and undertaken high-impact programs that provide lifesaving healthcare for vulnerable women and children and underserved, poor communities. We develop programmatic work plans that are tested, and we evaluate and refine them to leverage efficiencies while maximizing effectiveness.
As word of COVID-19 began to make its way into the public eye, the path of this new virus was being closely monitored and tracked by CMMB health experts. Our headquarters and in-country staff had firsthand experience in epidemic response as a result of work on HIV/AIDS beginning in the early 1990s and more recently on outbreaks of cholera and Ebola virus disease. Our staff was on early and high alert and quickly mounted a response to the COVID-19 threat in the countries we work.
An extensive needs assessment conducted at the outset of the pandemic identified critical needs in preparedness and protection. CMMB swung into action providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and basic supplies; training for frontline healthcare workers and communities; provision of water and hygiene materials at facilities; and construction of triage and isolation units.
Our Medical Donations Program procured critical supplies and undertook airlifts to areas desperate to keep healthcare workers safe so that they could continue to treat the increasing number of sick people. CMMB conducted technical training webinars on COVID-19 and created and distributed online reference materials and guidelines. CMMB also quickly developed business continuity plans for our New York headquarters and all in-country offices, and we strengthened IT capacities so that staff could respond to the pandemic and continue critical healthcare work in safety.
Since we launched our COVID-19 response, 248 health facilities were provided with supplies, including personal protective equipment.
Volunteer Program: Experts Build Capacity from a Distance
With travel restrictions in place, CMMB Volunteers can now serve from home.
COVID-19 abruptly halted international travel. In response, CMMB’s Volunteer Program adapted to continue to serve the communities where we work. By adding remote volunteering and educational opportunities, we have sharpened our focus on strengthening health services and building local capacity.
Since 1914, CMMB has answered the call to service through our Volunteer Program. In the spirit of this legacy, our commitment to connecting health practitioners and other skilled professionals to health facilities and community programs worldwide continues during COVID-19. By leveraging our partnerships and connections with individuals, volunteers have continued to support health services in the countries where we work. From providing remote technical support to presenting webinars on how to treat mothers infected with COVID-19 and their newborns, CMMB has created new opportunities in program development through education to build local capacity.
Our volunteers also served as CMMB ambassadors, using newly refined Zoom presentation abilities to share their experiences with college and university students, including Hunter College and Fordham, Fairfield, and Georgetown universities. CMMB volunteers are the best representatives we have as an organization as we share the important work being done on the ground in country and encourage the next generation of care providers with a direction and path forward.
For more than 30 years, Dr. Mike Pendleton has been committed to providing relief work around the world. In 2020, he served in Gidel, Sudan— home to Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains and Aurora Prize-winner Dr. Tom Catena.
Medication Donations Program: Providing High-Quality Medicines Worldwide
CMMB’s Medical Donations Program expanded access to healthcare for the world’s most vulnerable people.
Our Medication Donations Program strives to increase resources and equip health facilities to provide care to the poorest patients—including when disasters and humanitarian crises strike.
CMMB partners to receive donated products with leading pharmaceutical companies, hospital networks, and medical supply manufacturers. Products distributed free of charge through the Medical Donations Program are allocated based on facility needs and help fill resource gaps of healthcare systems worldwide.
In addition to products, our program seeks to support partners through training and resources. To build capacity for the coronavirus response and prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Medical Donations Program created and distributed two practical guides to more than 3,000 beneficiary health facilities. The first guide provided updated policies for effective infection prevention and control of the virus in health facility settings. The second guide recommended methods for the conservation and safe, extended reuse of PPE in case of shortages.
In 2020, CMMB deployed more than $421 million worth of medicines and medical supplies to 52 health partners in 31 countries.
COVID-19 Emergency Response
As COVID-19 continues to spread, it is important for us to be mindful of the already fragile nature of healthcare systems in the countries where we work. We need you support now more than ever. Our shared work in this critical time will have an impact on the lives of those for generations to come.
Partnering to Provide Care to the Most Vulnerable
Medication Donations Program partnerships play a key role in CMMB’s efforts to deliver high-quality medicine and the best possible health solutions to women and children.
Massachusetts General Hospital (Mass General) is dedicated to advancing care through innovative research, and education. Mass General’s Global Neurology Research Group works in long-term partnership with facilities in low- and middle-income countries to improve the quality of care and to conduct research to establish best practices in these settings.
With the ongoing support of Mylan, CMMB was able to provide Mass General research teams with medical donations to support care and research in Guinea and Tanzania.
In low-resource countries such as Guinea, epilepsy frequently goes undiagnosed. Those in rural communities far from health facilities often turn to traditional healers for treatment of seizures. Even when patients do seek help at health facilities, it is rare that the medical staff has the expertise to properly diagnose nor the resources to treat them. Because of this, epilepsy is a much more common cause of death.
In Guinea, CMMB and Mylan provided an antiepileptic medication for study to better understand how to provide care for poor patients who suffer from epileptic seizures. Mass General’s research revealed that these patients are at greater risk for injury and have other, related health conditions. The study noted “a cycle of poverty in which a treatable illness leads to a new disability, additional morbidity, and lost socioeconomic opportunities.” Study findings present steps towards leveling the quality of care for people with epilepsy in the hopes that future generations will not face this suffering. These studies and others may help break the cycle of disease-inspired poverty.
CMMB’s work is vastly multiplied by the generosity of donor partners such as Mylan, who provide critically needed medicines, and by the innovative efforts of consignee partners like Mass General.
Help Us Increase Our ImpactDonate Now
CMMB is honored to acknowledge our generous donors, whose steadfast support has sustained our lifesaving work. We are blessed by partnerships with compassionate individuals, corporations, and foundations which made our accomplishments in 2020 possible.
Learn more about our supporters, like Matthew Styczynski, who are advancing our shared mission and vision to provide quality healthcare that serves vulnerable women, children, and communities with love, dignity, and respect.
Other Ways to Give: You Can Make a Difference
Firm in our faith, CMMB has been providing quality healthcare and dignity to the poor for more than a century. As we carry out our shared mission to serve vulnerable women, children, and families in need, we hope you will continue to partner with us.Learn More