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The Nexus of Bridging Digital Solutions with Cross Sector Development

I am neither a data nor a health specialist, yet it is at the nexus of the two where I have built my expertise.

I took my very first steps on the sands of Dar es Salaam’s Msasani Bay, but it was in Lusaka eight years later that I became acutely aware of the realities of global social, economic and health disparities. My neighbors played soccer barefoot with a bundle of plastic bags and, each day, graves of the victims of the HIV/AIDS epidemic crept closer towards the road that led to my school.

Experiencing such disparities during my upbringing Africa and Washington, DC shaped my pursuit of a career in international relations and development. I began my career in women’s empowerment and post-conflict development, and transitioned into health in 2012 after accepting a job offer at PATH, a global health innovation nonprofit, in 2012. This position launched my journey into information and communication technology for health. Surrounded by IT and health experts, my mandate was to orchestrate harmony and impact between the two.

The digital sector at the time was young and lacked a coherent vision and guiding principles. I worked with PATH’s digital health team to define that vision with common requirements for fundamental information systems such as supply chain and health financing. I supported a group of countries in a peer-learning network designed to identify key challenges to achieving universal health coverage and imagining potential digital solutions. As interest, funding and adoption increased in the sector, our portfolio expanded.

In 2016, work led me back to the same sands of Dar es Salaam to manage PATH’s partnership with the Tanzanian government to develop its Digital Health Investment Roadmap a national policy which secured $15m from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for implementation. This catalytic investment inspired countries around the world to chart their course towards digital transformation. In 2018, I advised a group of global leaders,  (including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, World Health Organization, Gavi and the World Bank) among others, on innovative approaches from across sectors that could address inequities in immunization coverage. Interest and emphasis on leveraging digital technologies and data was at the forefront of the discussion.

We make better decisions easier and faster when we hold relevant and accurate information in our hands. I’ve seen profound impact in global health through access to basic, critical information, previously unavailable, unlocked by digital technology.

Bringing my niche experience in digital solutions for development into alignment with my cross sectoral development passions is an incredible opportunity. I am thrilled to join the Digital Impact Alliance as the Senior Manager of Partnerships. DIAL brings all of this, and all of us; practitioners, donors, governments, nonprofits and the private sector together. It fills the gaps of evidence to bolster our intuition with knowledge and guidance. It brings together stakeholders to devise collaboration for shared value and global impact. It develops adaptable and replicable approaches to make global development actors more able to readily, effectively and responsibly leverage digital technology and data.

Breese is the Senior Manager for Partnerships at DIAL. She is a seasoned international development professional with a track record of designing and executing strategies and building partnerships to resolve complex challenges for sustainable social impact. Breese is the co-author of The Journey to scale: Moving together past digital health pilots with DIAL’s CEO Kate Wilson

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