Atlantic Philanthropies has announced a $40 million investment in a new fellowship initiative aimed at increasing access to affordable, quality health care in Southeast Asia.
In partnership with the China Medical Board (CMB) — which will contribute an additional $10 million to the effort — the Transformative Leaders for Health Equity initiative will work to nurture the next generation of public health leaders and build a community of fellows and partners dedicated to the promotion of health equity. Using pioneering methods of peer, experiential, and online learning, the initiative will train five hundred visionary healthcare innovators from the region, with an initial focus on Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi; eventually, the initiative will be expanded to all ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Despite significant economic growth in recent years, the region continues to be hobbled by significant health inequities, while health and prevention services are at best inadequate, especially in poorer countries where the need is greatest. Professionals participating in the initiative will gain skills and experience in research and policy advocacy and, at the same time, will build a community of mentors and partner organizations spanning the ASEAN states.
"As noted by Amartya Sen, who chairs the initiative's Global Advisory Board, 'health equality' reflects an objective description of health maldistribution, whereas 'health equity' requires ethical judgment on the 'fairness' of such health disparities," Atlantic Philanthropies president and CEO Christopher G. Oechsli says in a recent Lancet article. "As such, health equity is not an ultimate destination but a social journey. This initiative will invest in that moral journey by empowering the next generation to pursue their own quest for social justice in health."