Each of Us Have a Role to Play in Creating a Sustainable and Healthy Future for the World’s Refugees

Guest post by Stanley M. Bergman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Henry Schein, Inc. who spoke at the 19 September UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants. 

The United Nations General Assembly gathered last week to focus a bright light on the over 65 million people who are displaced worldwide. One message was clear: sympathy for the plight of refugees simply is not enough.

Every sector of society shares a responsibility to address the root causes of the crisis. One may ask why the private sector should devote so much time and resources to giving back to communities in need around the world. Simply put: we have a moral obligation to act, and it is in our enlightened self-interest to do so. Business cannot succeed in failed societies.

During times of displacement, emergency assistance to meet basic human needs is critical. While these needs are many, ensuring access to health care is of fundamental importance. Health is, in many ways, the overlooked building block critical to supporting other basic needs and rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Further, health care for vulnerable populations must go beyond access to emergency services. Given that the journey for refugees and migrants often takes many years, and the fact that noncommunicable diseases have overtaken infectious diseases as the leading cause of death worldwide, access to primary health care must be addressed within the overall conversation. Access to health care must also include a special focus on the unique needs of women and girls, who are often the most at-risk. Lastly, it is critical to remember that our collective responsibility does not end when refugees arrive in their destination country.

Working toward creating a truly sustainable, secure, and healthy future for the world’s refugees cannot be the job of any one sector. International, multi-sectoral cooperation is the only effective solution. Although public-private partnership is certainly not a new concept, the world’s full embracing of the true value that the private sector can contribute is only just beginning to be realized.

There is a critical contribution for the private sector to make if given the opportunity to be a true partner of governments, international governmental organizations, NGOs and civil society. Harnessing the full power of this collaborative model means engaging the private sector beyond traditional charitable donations, to leverage the unique expertise and competencies businesses possess. At Henry Schein, we have seen first-hand the results that these types of innovative public private partnerships can yield and have demonstrated proof of this model through our work with the United Nations World Food Programme, WHO, World Bank and our valued supplier partners to develop the Global Supply Network for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. We have made a common commitment to help send a broader message that our collective impact is exponentially greater than any of us acting alone.

In the decade since Thomas Friedman said that the “world is flat,” ease of travel and telecommunications have enabled the highest degree of interconnectedness ever experienced by humankind. “Global” and “local” are more intertwined than ever, and the plight of refugees is the plight of us all. Each of us must have the courage to stand up and do our part. And we must do so in partnership with one another.


Stanley M. Bergman is Chairman and CEO of Henry Schein, Inc., a Fortune 500® company and the world’s largest provider of health care products and services to office-based dental, animal health and medical practitioners, with more than 19,000 team members and operations or affiliates in 33 countries. www.henryschein.com. Mr. Bergman addressed the United Nations General Assembly Summit for Refugees and Migrants plenary session on the vulnerabilities refugees face on their journey on 19n September, 2016.


Coming up at the UN General Assembly on Thursday

See all our behind the scenes photos in our Flickr gallery

The General Debate of the General Assembly continues on Thursday. All speeches by delegates at the meeting can be seen live on webcast.

A breakfast session of the Secretary-General’s MDG Advocacy Group will showcase the successes of the eight Millennium Development Goals to deliver a healthier, equitable and more sustainable future, and will launch the MDG Advocates’ Leaders Report. Follow the event on Twitter using #mdgmomentum and #mdgleaders.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will convene world leaders for a High-level Meeting on Response to the Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak at 11 a.m. The meeting aims to mobilize an exceptional response to contain and stop the spread of the virus, treat those who are infected, ensure essential services, preserve stability and prevent outbreaks in other countries.


Since Securetary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the Zero Hunger Challenge two years ago, a broad range of countries businesses, groups and individuals have taken bold action to eliminate hunger. A high-level event on Thursday at 1.15 p.m on Delivering Zero Hunger will provide a platform for Zero Hunger champions to demonstrate impact, showcase transformative partnerships and innovative actions, and announce new commitments. The hashtag is #ZeroHunger and you can follow @ZeroHunger on Twitter and like the Zero Hunger Challenge on Facebook for updates.


At 3 p.m., a high-level event  on “Partnering for Results: Delivering for Every Woman & Every Child Within a Generation” will showcase commitments to accelerate the global political momentum for women’s and children’s health until and beyond 2015. The hashtag is #commit2deliver and main Twitter account is @UnfEWEC.

Also taking place on Thursday:

  • High-level side event: “Moving Away from the Death Penalty” at 1.15 p.m., organized by the UN human rights office
  • Ministerial Meeting on LGBT Rights: “Free & Equal: LGBT Rights Are Human Rights” at 3.15 p.m.

This list highlights only a few of the events happening on Thursday – follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest.

You can also watch press conferences, stakeouts and more live online.

In addition, there are many other side events scheduled. Check out the Daily Journal (PDF) for updates and location information.

More information