Pillar Talks


PQMD successfully hosts an interactive webinar and discussion series – the PQMD Pillar Talks on our online Community of Practice (CoP). The CoP is a forum where global health professionals gather to address issues and areas that enhance our work in the areas of disaster response,  health systems strengthening, humanitarian assistance and high-quality medical product donations, and knowledge and innovation. We are always looking to amplify interesting perspectives and relevant experiences.

Do you have a story to tell?

By hosting a webinar on the CoP you can share your work with high-level thought leaders in global health, the medical donations space, and beyond. If you would like to present a webinar or have ideas for topics/speakers please let us know by emailing Jennifer Zolkos or Juliemarie Vander Burg.

Community of Practice Special COVID-19 Pillar Talk Series

Two-Panel Event: The Intersection of WASH and Health Systems Resiliency

Presented in Partnership with

On June 16, 2020, PQMD hosted two timely dialogues on COVID-19 and WASH.  Quality water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure and programs at healthcare facilities are critical for long-term resiliency and effectiveness of a healthcare system. Longstanding challenges exist in institutionalizing safe water, functioning toilets, and adequate availability of hygiene products as essential components of all healthcare facilities. Widely accepted benefits of institutionalizing WASH within the healthcare system include: disease prevention, enhanced quality of care, reduced morbidity and mortality, reduced healthcare-acquired infections and antimicrobial resistance. Also evident is the link between WASH and effectively managed, sustainable healthcare facilities, including enhanced worker safety, productivity and morale.

COVID-19 exposes the critical role of quality WASH infrastructure, targeted interventions and comprehensive approaches in the prevention, spread and management of the disease. With COVID-19, we have the opportunity to take immediate action to protect healthcare workers, and at the same time build the foundation of preparedness and stronger health facilities for the long-term. Organizations and individuals globally are stepping forward, raising and allocating funds for COVID-19 response.

This two-panel session addressed the  coordination of policy and vision “Where WASH fits in the Landscape of Healthcare”, while at the same time highlighting practical information for WASH-inclusive programming, “Operationalizing Commitments for Results”.  Together these panels covered:

Defining the scope of the WASH in healthcare facility challenge and progress toward solutions.
Highlighting the interdependencies between effective WASH systems and other key health system priorities such as immunization effectiveness, AMR, IPC and maternal and child health.
The current pandemic has the potential to uplift WASH financing and fortify WASH infrastructure through unique collaboration, coordination of existing best practices, and new public-private partnerships to include targeted WASH initiatives response and health programming.
The Path Forward. WASH as a fulcrum for connecting and organizing projects to prevent disease and build stronger healthcare institutions.

Panel 1 – 10:00 – 10:45 am EST 
Dr. Alma Crumm Golden, Assistant Administrator, Bureau of Global Health — USAID
Abraham Asmare, WASH Director – Children’s Investment Fund Foundation
Carmen Villar, Vice President, Social Business Innovation — Merck
Peter Laugharn, President & CEO – Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Moderator: Jeff Richardson, Retired VP AbbVie Foundation & Abbott Fund

– Short Break – 

Panel 2 – 11:00-11:45 am EST
Dr. Mirfin Mpundu, President — ReAct Africa
Dr. Willibald Zeck, Unit Chief for the Global Maternal, Newborn and Adolescent Health Program — UNICEF
Dr. John Borrazzo – Senior Maternal, Newborn, and Child Specialist – Global Financing Facility
Moderator: Dr. Veronica Arroyave, Director, Global Community Relations and Executive Director, Baxter Foundation — Baxter

The Diagnostics Landscape

On May 6, 2020, PQMD held a webinar on COVID-19 diagnostics moderated by Gary Cohen, Executive Vice President of Global Health, BD and President of the BD Foundation, and included the following panelists:

  • John Nkengasong, Director, Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Stanley M. Bergman, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Henry Schein
  • Sumin Koo, Deputy Director of Innovative Technology Solutions (Global Health), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Dave Hickey, WW President, Integrated Diagnostic Solutions, Becton Dickinson

The session provided a candid discussion, especially given the current environment, on the availability and accessibility to timely diagnostics in order to provide data for decision-makers in the management, mitigation, and the ability to control the underlying risk of COVID-19 for population health. The panelists considered the three different types of tests under development (PCR-based tests, diagnostic antigen, and serology tests) and the challenges to making them available, affordable, accessible, and scalable in response to the global pandemic.

While there has been a lot of information about testing provided in the media, the panelists addressed some of the misunderstandings and the fact that there needs to be more dialogue so that experts can come to a consensus on how diagnostics should be used to address COVID-19. While the process will not be perfect, the panelists agreed that diagnostics is key to controlling the spread of COVID-19. They also emphasized the importance of private-public partnerships in order to secure access to quality diagnostics.

Toward the end of the session, panelists were asked about whether they thought there could be long-term changes to diagnostics once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.  Panelists discussed opportunities for future action, including increasing the speed of response to get diagnostics into the market through regulatory bodies, such as the FDA, and to make progress on long-term interventions for other diseases, such as malaria. This crisis has also put a spotlight on the need to invest more in prevention and public health

Supporting Global Health Workers During the Covid-19 Crisis

Healthcare professionals are incredible living assets leading the battle to curb the stark toll of human mortality and morbidity caused by SARS-CoV-2.  Yet our experience has shown that healthcare workers are uniquely affected by a cascade of critical shortages in information, personal protective equipment, diagnostics, ventilators, and facilities. Health care professionals are faced with difficult decisions in extremely high-stress environments within the framework of ever-emerging empirical knowledge and best-practices related to COVID-19.

In an effort to support the global health workforce and health systems, together we will discuss what is known about how the workforce is managing under these conditions, strategies for surge preparation, unique considerations for lower- and middle-income countries, how to apply critical lessons from past epidemics/crises, and opportunities to cooperate as the pandemic progresses.

Pillar Talks September 12, 2019