Cambodia is the biggest investment in Asia for General Electric’s Developing Health Globally (DHG) initiative, according to GE’s manager for global health Moityeree Sinha, who spoke on Thursday at an AmCham breakfast at the Hotel InterContinental.
And so far, she says, it’s been money well spent.
The sixth-largest firm in the United States with annual revenue of about US$150 billion, the global corporation employs 290,000 people.
Since January 2009, working through the Ministry of Health, General Electric’s program has spent about $7 million on medical equipment, ultrasound machines, incubators and ventilators to upgrade Cambodia’s public health capability.
Speaking on corporate social responsibility, Sinha, who earned a doctorate in physics from the University of Cincinnati, said the biggest positive experience in Cambodia was dealing with the people, who were motivated, very easy to work with and wanted to do the right thing.
“Some of the challenges have been skill-set levels. It has been more of a challenge in Cambodia, and we have to make sure the training programs have been tailored appropriately,” she said.
Sinha said GE approached the health challenges facing Cambodia just as the company would its business.
“We run the projects using the same type of metrics even if they are philanthropic projects, and we apply the same business rigor and accountability onto the philanthropic side,” she said.
“We are in an increasingly resource scarce environment, which drives innovation in speed and scale, which is unprecedented in earlier decades.”
Sinha said her team was free of any commercial pressures on the DHG initiative, which is being conducted across 14 developing countries and has spent $61 million so far.
“There is never any conflict between the projects we work on and the commercial side,” she said.
One of the problems in health care across the developing countries she’s familiar with, including Cambodia, is a shortage of equipment and management expertise to deal with trauma.
“The lack of systems for dealing with trauma in health is one of the big problems,” she said.
Sinha noted that in all countries, unless there was strong leadership, it was very hard to function and maintain systems.
General Electric provides new equipment, including medical devices and also water filtration systems.
“Cambodia has been an outstanding experience for us, so that’s why we are investing more. Cambodia stood out for us in needs and Cambodia has been a very positive story for us.”
While they often supply General Electric equipment, Sinha said they also use other brands to get the needs met and try to find local “champions” who can maintain the equipment and find parts.
To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at [email protected]