In September, we had the pleasure of welcoming Marnie Davidson as our new programs manager in health. Marnie will be working very closely on our CIDA-funded mother, newborn and child health (MNCH) initiatives.
Now that she’s settled in, we thought we’d sit down with Marnie to talk about her experience in the field and get her thoughts about her work here at CARE.
Can you tell us a bit about where you worked before CARE and the type of projects you’ve been involved with in the past?
Before coming to CARE, I spent almost a decade working with various organizations in the fields of health and development. Graduating with a master of arts in European and Russian studies with interests in social transformation in transition countries doesn’t necessarily lead to work in health; however, I was fortunate to get a position on a CIDA-funded health promotion project in Ukraine shortly after I left university.
Since then, I have worked on health-related projects in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa in the areas of HIV/AIDS, mother, newborn and child health, and public health. In retrospect, I found my social sciences background has proved to be a great asset for my work in global public health.
What brought you to CARE?
CARE has this wonderful reputation in the development community in Canada for delivering excellent programming along with being at the forefront of women’s empowerment work. That, and the fact that some of the most important mentors I have had in my career have passed through CARE’s doors at one time or another has always made me interested in the organization.
For me, the timing was right to take a closer look at CARE. I was finishing up a project on immunization at the Canadian Public Health Association and looking to move into more development-focused work, ideally on a Muskoka Initiative MNCH project. When I saw the vacancy at CARE, I thought it would be a great fit.
Just over a month in, I can safely say it was the right move. The work is some of the most interesting I have come across and CARE has a great feel as an organization.
What spurred your interest in MNCH?
MNCH was something I took on because of interest and opportunity. One of my earliest projects was in pediatric HIV and that experience really taught me that trying to reduce the burden of illness is an exercise in combating a whole set of social, political and cultural assumptions, especially when there is a relationship to sexual and reproductive health.
My focus on MNCH and HIV is related to my interest in health equity and how we can give opportunity for all members of society to achieve optimal health and well being. In most cases we know what works to help marginalized and vulnerable populations, but it is often socio-economic and political factors that are the biggest barriers.
From my experience, working in HIV and maternal health provides the possibility to be a witness to some really positive individual and social transformations.
What are your thoughts on the recent joint opinion piece about MNCH?
The recent opinion piece Let’s build on our success for mothers and children in developing countries contributes to the vital work non-governmental organizations, governments and the private sector are doing to maintain momentum and consolidate the gains we have made in MNCH over the past few decades. Still, more work needs to be done. This is our opportunity to significantly empower women and improve the health of mothers, and, in doing so, all people.
From all of us at CARE Canada, we welcome Marnie to the team and look forward to sharing more of her notes and projects in the future!