By Nalini Saligram
Last week I was privileged to attend the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting in New York, a remarkable gathering of world leaders from a variety of fields, all in one room, all assembled there by one man: President Bill Clinton. He has used his considerable reach and extraordinary powers of persuasion to get people to forge partnerships, and together Commitments–more than 3,600 of them–to improve the world we live in. I am inspired to similarly use my own sphere of influence, however small it may be, to leave a legacy, to make change.
This was my 5th CGI meeting. Out of Arogya World’s six years of existence, we made it to CGI five times. CGI has been an integral part of our organization’s journey. It gave us a global platform for the issues we care deeply about, empowered us to make bold promises, and–by making these promises public–made us accountable for delivering results. CGI gave us many opportunities for incredible learning. I will never forget a session on workplace health at one of the NCD Action Network meetings, and a brutally honest small group discussion on mental health at a CGI meeting, and of course the many personal, human, and illuminating insights from world leaders. We have met amazing people at CGI, and yet everyone is on equal footing, including heads of state, CEOs of large companies, small NGOs, philanthropists, and celebrities. This, the 12th CGI Annual Meeting, was the last one; September in New York will not be the same.
This year, we became one of the partners on a global mental health Commitment to Action made at CGI called mhNOW. We have committed to providing case studies of mental health programs offered in workplace settings in India that might be scaled up to help more people. Alongside Global Development Incubator, Basic Needs, and others leading this commitment, Arogya World was recognized on stage.
Previously, we had made 3 additional commitments over the course of our journey with CGI. Two have been completed, delivering all we had promised, on time. One is still ongoing. These include:
- mDiabetes – In this 2011 CGI commitment, we promised to reach 1 million Indians with text messages on diabetes and its prevention in 12 languages, and to measure its impact. We used the CGI platform to attract partners like Nokia and Emory University, and received funding support from Aetna International, J&J, and MSD India. In 2013, we came back to CGI, having completed this monumental public health work, with preliminary results. We were pleased that CGI showed a progress update video on mDiabetes at one of the plenary sessions at the annual meeting. Subsequently, this research work was completed and published.
- 10,000 women’s study – In 2013, we made a CGI commitment to conduct a 10-country 10,000 women’s study on the impact of NCDs on everyday lives. Again we used the CGI platform to rally partners and funding support, which we received for this effort from Novartis, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, American Cancer Society, and others. We completed this work on time, as promised, in 2014. We and others in the NCD community have used this report, which provides global grassroots perspectives on the way NCDs affect women and their families, and the accompanying videos, at many meetings and conferences to influence policy makers.
- Healthy Workplaces – In 2013, we committed to getting 100 companies in India to become Healthy Workplaces according to criteria we had previously co-created with industry and healthcare professionals. This work is ongoing. This year, we expect to reach 70 to 75 Healthy Workplaces in India, covering more than 700,000 employees. We are doing lots of exciting work in this space and Arogya World is increasingly being recognized as a champion of workplace health in India. Aon and PHFI were initial partners; subsequently, many others have joined us.
The Clinton Global Initiative team gave us many avenues for visibility, lifting us–a relatively unknown non-profit–onto the global stage.
We were thrilled that CGI wrote an article about us for their 10th anniversary brochure a few years ago, which highlighted how we are changing individual behavior, shaping company culture, and striving to influence policy.
We are grateful to CGI for the rich experiences and many life lessons, the exciting journey, and extraordinary help in our early years. Thank you to the CGI team–Nicole London, Emily Dery, Laura Solia, and many others–for their ready support, always.