PATH, partners lead congressional briefing to highlight reaching women and children with innovative technologies

August 2, 2010 by PATH


Paul LaBarre addresses the audience during a congressional briefing on technologies for maternal and child health. Photo: PATH/Megan Miller.

On July 21, 2010, more than 100 policymakers and members of the global health community, including more than 30 congressional staff members and representatives of US government agencies, gathered on Capitol Hill to hear global health experts discuss ways to reach women and children with lifesaving innovations. The congressional briefing, sponsored by PATH in conjunction with the Global Health Council and Management Sciences for Health, focused on ways to strengthen health systems so that new drugs and devices can reach remote areas and improve maternal and child health.

Access to lifesaving tools

Paul LaBarre, a technical officer at PATH, opened with a discussion about how PATH is developing health tools—such as an antishock suit to control postpartum hemorrhage or a solar-powered refrigerator for vaccine storage—that are affordable, appropriate, and accessible for women and children in need worldwide. Dr. Edmund Rutta, country program manager for the strengthening pharmaceutical systems program at Management Sciences for Health, discussed ways in which working with a spectrum of partners—such as the government, private industry, and nongovernmental organizations—can help improve the systems that maximize access to essential maternal and child health tools.

Allen Wilcox, president of VillageReach, spoke about improving the performance and reliability of health systems in the most inaccessible and isolated communities. Dr. Lily Kak, newborn and maternal health advisor at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), highlighted how USAID is working to improve access to lifesaving health technologies for women and children.

Catharine Taylor, leader of PATH’s Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition Global Program, moderated the discussion.

Congressional support

US Representatives Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Brian Baird (D-WA) made personal appeals in support of the issues highlighted at the briefing. Congressman Sires spoke about his global health technologies bill, H.R.3560, which would enhance USAID’s authority to advance research for the innovation of lifesaving global health technologies. A companion bill, S.1591, is currently in the Senate.

Congressman Baird spoke about how the medical care that saved his wife’s and children’s lives in the United States might have been unavailable to them if they had been born overseas, and thanked PATH for its work to improve health equities in low-resource settings.

The briefing was hosted by Sires, Baird, members of the Washington congressional delegation, and other congressional champions of global health, including US Representatives Betty McCollum (D-MN), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), and Jim McDermott (D-WA).

More about the briefing series

The July 21 briefing was the second in a series of congressional briefings about innovative approaches to expanding and improving maternal and child health programming in the developing world. The next event in the series will focus on public–private partnerships. To learn more about upcoming events in the series please contact Megan Miller at

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