30 May 2014

Africa: In Africa, U.S. Businesses Seek to Invest in Communities

press release

Washington — During her recent trade mission to West Africa, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker highlighted the fact that while U.S. businesses pursue commercial interests on the continent, they are also looking for ways to help the communities where they operate thrive.

In Nigeria, Pritzker participated in a round-table discussion with representatives from General Electric (GE) Healthcare and the Nigerian government, which was detailed in a May 27 Commerce Department blog post. She heard about opportunities for U.S. companies to help address Nigeria's health care issues, specifically in the areas of infant and maternal care. Before the discussion, GE executives escorted her through a "Continuum of Care" walk-through display that depicted the many solutions GE is using to improve maternal and newborn health in the region.

During the discussion, Pritzker heard about the Healthymagination Mother & Child Initiative, a first-of-its-kind, five-year effort undertaken by GE, Nigeria's Ministry of Health and the U.S. Agency for International Development. It will focus on increasing capacity in the primary health care system and providing affordable financing options to support the reduction of child and maternal mortality.

Specifically, the initiative will focus on bringing more mobile and alternative-powered health technology to the region, along with robust training and education programs for nurses and midwives to help reduce child mortality and improve maternal health. Both of these outcomes will help Nigeria meet its Millennium Development Goals.

Many U.S. companies are committed to corporate social responsibility, the blog post said. GE is a good example of this commitment, it said, because it not only has been investing in infrastructure and power projects in Nigeria, but it has also been actively involved in ways to improve health care outcomes and efficiency in the country.

"Working together, governments, businesses and nonprofits can help nations grow and thrive," the blog post said. "The Commerce Department will continue to support and highlight the work of social and development programs that are made possible -- in part -- by U.S. companies committed to corporate social responsibility."

Pritzker's health care round-table discussion was part of an energy business development trade mission to West Africa during which she led 20 American companies on a visit to Ghana and Nigeria.

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