PQMD Biannual Board of Directors Meeting 2017

PQMD Biannual Board of Directors Meeting 2017

Three-day meeting focused discussion on global disaster response and PQMD expertise

The PQMD Fall 2017 Board Meeting was held October 10-12, 2017. The meeting included discussions on PQMD’s experience and expertise in global health policy and PQMD member response to recent global disasters and crises. PQMD member Operation Smile hosted the meeting at their beautiful facility in Virginia Beach, Va.  The meeting was attended by 41 representatives from corporate and NGO PQMD members.

The three-day packed agenda kicked off with a welcome by Operation Smile. Co-founder Dr. William Magee, Jr. shared an overview of the history and mission of Operation Smile to provide access to safe surgery around the globe. Dr. Magee shared that one of Operation Smile’s tenets is their focus on young talent, commenting “…it’s amazing what young people can do, because they don’t know they can’t do it.” In 2007, Operation Smile celebrated its 25th anniversary with a World Journey of Smiles, performing 4,000 surgeries in 40 sites in 25 different countries. Richard Vander Burg, Operation Smile’s Chief Program Officer, then shared a more in depth look at Operation Smile’s work around the globe to repair cleft lip, and how the organization brings in the “stuff, staff and systems” to make the surgeries work.

PQMD members have a sustained focus on global events, including refugee crises, famine risks and political unrest, as well as global natural disasters. This year has been exceptional, given the many simultaneous crises, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, earthquakes in Mexico, outbreaks of plague and new refugee hotspots. PQMD’s members worked together and individually, to mitigate the impacts of these events and the meeting provided the opportunity to discuss lessons learned and consider new approaches to any similar situations in the future. Positioning PQMD as a major resource in the global health conversation, and where the alliance can collectively achieve impact, was also prominently on the agenda.


A detailed workshop on the 2018 PQMD Guidelines provided opportunity for corporate and NGO members to discuss the material in smaller groups. Each year, the guidelines are updated to accommodate new learning, previously unforeseen challenges with donations and donation practices, and gaps that need to be filled in order to ensure that quality products and services continue to reach the people who need them. This year, the Guidelines Committee will focus on four areas: adverse effects, recalls, medical devices, and the drug supply chain security. The goal for the 2018 update is crafting language that will make the guidelines stronger, more easily understood by a wider range of stakeholders, and with clearer definitions of terms and reporting.

Andy Stergachis, University of Washington, and Doug Fountain, Medical Teams International, kicked off their informative session on the Research, Data and Impact Committee’s work with an amusing skit. One of the committee’s goals is to emphasize the importance of utilizing data to highlight value and impact of PQMD members’ work, both independently and collectively. Their work should further position PQMD with policy and thought leadership, both inside and outside the organization.

PQMD Executive Director Elizabeth Ashbourne and PQMD’s Director of Global Policy Veronica Arroyave lead the global health policy discussion.

The second day of the PQMD Fall Board Meeting began with a global health policy discussion, led by PQMD’s newest staff member, Veronica Arroyave. The discussion developed into a breakout session exploring PQMD’s span of influence, where we can have the most impact, and what sort of future partnerships need to be developed to expand our work in global development. It was clear that PQMD has a broad reach within the global health policy community through its mission and annual Guidelines, and increasingly with the PQMD Global Health Forums. Members discussed many subjects in global health policy, including innovative donation models, supply chain and logistics, healthcare worker training, access to essential surgery and pandemic and disaster preparedness. The conversation also included suggestions on positioning PQMD as a global health policy resource, including memberships with affiliate organizations, utilizing the guidelines as credentialing in the global health community, and providing data and resources on defining global health issues.


During the Board Meeting’s first day, Dr. Julie Varughese, Chief Medical Officer of Americares, presented information on the PQMD Health Systems Strengthening-Medical Missions Initiative (HHS-MMI).  The Initiative aims to improve the practice, impact and sustainability of medical missions and to better support and strengthen local healthcare systems by developing and implementing a set of guidelines. The HSS-MM is a 3-year initiative focusing on creating a framework for sending organizations and receiving countries to better coordinate and manage medical missions.  Honduras, the top country destination for short term medical missions, was selected as the first country to vet guidelines and provide stakeholder feedback. Dr. Varughese introduced next steps for the initiative, including expanding it to the Philippines and additional countries. Lessons learned through the initiative will be shared on PQMD’s Community of Practice and through a communications and marketing strategy.

Donation practices and how they affect health systems strengthening, capacity building, economic empowerment and health worker training were the topics of a roundtable discussion. Representatives from Health Partners of Canada, IMEC, Mercy Ships, Project HOPE and new PQMD member THET, shared experiences on their work. Presenters discussed their efforts to strengthen maternal/child healthcare and access to adequate surgical facilities and trained, qualified medical personnel. The presenting members all discussed the need for access to better and more comprehensive care and the importance of partnerships and donations to achieve that end.

Sue Mangicaro of Heart to Heart International and Erica Tavares of International Medical Corps next led a discussion on the World Health Organization’s Emergency Medical Team certification process. The certification process stemmed from the response to Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake, when an estimated 316,000 people died, 300,000 more were injured, and 1.5 million people were displaced. The ensuing emergency response was thought to be uncoordinated and inconsistent. In response, WHO released Classification and Minimum Standards for Emergency Medical Teams. Organizations can be certified in 3 distinct, capacity-dependent categories, Type 1, 2 or 3 Emergency Medical Teams. PQMD members Direct Relief, International Medical Corps, Americares, International Medical Corps, and Heart to Heart International are all working toward either Type 1 or Type 2 Emergency Medical Team certification. The detailed certification process and its implications for donors and partnerships were discussed at length.

PQMD members in discussion at PQMD Fall Board of Directors meeting held at Operation Smile headquarters in Virginia Beach, VA.

PQMD member response to the recent and multiple global emergencies, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Marie, Mexico earthquakes, as well as continued response to emergencies in Puerto Rico, Haiti, Syria and east Africa, was the subject of a robust discussion during the second day of the Board Meeting. Representatives from both NGO and corporate members of PQMD discussed their response to various emergencies, many highlighting that their partnerships developed through PQMD membership were a key success factor in their capacity and ability to mobilize resources and respond with speed and action. The magnitude and frequency of disasters in a relatively short amount of time stretched many organizations’ resources, but all continued to participate in the work. As Pat Bacuros of Direct Relief said, “As horrific as the conditions were, it was fascinating to see NGOs, corporations and distributors all working together” in response to the ongoing crises.

The PQMD Board of Directors meeting provided an opportunity for PQMD members to share their experiences, learn from each other, deepen relationships and in some case, build new alliances to respond to ongoing and recent global crises.  It was clear that the mission of PQMD is more important than ever.  PQMD must continue to collectively share expertise with others in global development, and prioritize health systems strengthening, disaster response and access to medicine in order to provide the highest quality products and services to reach the most vulnerable. For the full agenda and to request additional information about particular sessions, contact PQMD.

PQMD Member Representatives and Staff in attendance at PQMD Board of Directors meeting held October 10-12, 2017.