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.


Social media highlights from Afghanistan, Libya, Nicaragua, South Sudan, Syria, Thailand and more

Here’s a selection of photos and videos you may have missed posted on UN social media accounts from around the UN system over the past few weeks and shared with our social media team. Thank you to all who contributed!

Children in Bambari, Central African Republic received supplies for school. Thanks to @UNICEFAfrica for posting this and more on their Twitter account.

Thousands of Afghans flocked to Bamyan province in Afghanistan to watch a United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)-organized concert to mark International Youth Day. The concert featured traditional music as well as blues, rap, pop, and hard rock songs – all performed by Afghan singers and musicians. Thanks to UNAMA for posting this and more on their Flickr account. Young South Sudanese women took part in a fashion show during a “Fashion and Arts for Peace” festival in Juba. The festival was held ahead of the UN International Youth Day commemorated on 12 August annually. Thanks to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for posting this and more photos in their album on Facebook. A group of mothers attend a hygiene promotion session at a shelter for displaced families on the outskirts of Tartous, Syria. UNICEF recently kicked off a campaign to reach thousands of displaced children and parents in Tartous with hygiene promotion messages. Thanks to UNICEF Middle East and North Africa for posting this and more on their Facebook page. If you love taking photos and are between the ages of 14 and 19, enter this ‪World Health Organization (WHO)‬ competition. They want to see health and illness through your eyes! Winners will get a bursary and more. Thanks to the WHO for posting this and more on their Facebook page.

Electoral material arrived at Timbuktu airport in Mali for the 2nd round of presidential elections. Thanks to @UNPeacekeeping for posting this and more on their Twitter account.

Workers in Nicaragua load food onto trucks headed to coastal areas hit by severe flooding. Thanks to the World Food Programme (@WFP) for posting this and more on their Twitter account.

Eid celebrants congregated in Martyrs Square in Tripoli, Libya for the main prayer. Thanks to the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (@UNSMILibya) for posting this and more on their Twitter account.

Young people in Bangkok, Thailand, took part in a flash mob organized for World Humanitarian Day in August. See more photos of celebrations around the world in this photo gallery shared by our OCHA colleagues on Facebook.

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