THE BLOG
09/23/2016 02:52 pm ET Updated Sep 24, 2017

Partnerships Are Critical to Keeping Promises in Flint

It's been one year since the release of a study that linked water in Flint, Michigan to lead poisoning--confirming a public health crisis that sent shock waves all over the world. My organization, Children's Health Fund, and others have made progress addressing the needs of Flint's residents, but major challenges remain. With help from dedicated partners, we're committed to keeping awareness of Flint alive until we all do what we can to bring the community back to health.

Children's Health Fund has delivered high-quality healthcare to some of America's most disadvantaged children, completely free of cost, through 53 mobile clinics that serve 344 sites across the country. So when the water crisis first hit Flint, we knew this was a critical community to target - and the impact we've had is continuing to increase exponentially through partnerships and commitments we've made through the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI).

This February, Children's Health Fund responded immediately to the health crisis of lead contamination in Flint's water by deploying one of its mobile medical clinics to provide urgent on-the-ground health care services to children in the area. We worked with local partners to provide lead screening testing and health education to the thousands of kids now at risk for severe health problems and developmental delays. But the issue didn't disappear overnight - so we increased our efforts to bring care to the children of Flint, even when the news began to disappear from headlines.

While in Flint, I became connected with CGI member Ridgway White, president of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, an organization that supports projects like ours to help increase their impact. In June, CGI America provided the platform for us to call continued attention to this issue among like-minded people, intent to find a solution to the crisis in Flint and other issues.

In order to achieve long-term recovery in Flint, we knew we had to address the complexities of the issue. Since chronic stress goes hand-in-hand with prolonged trauma like this crisis, mental health support is essential to the treatment of the children and families of Flint. So Children's Health Fund and partner Genesee Health Systems, launched supplemental mental health services, which are being provided on our rolling blue medical units.

At this year's final CGI Annual Meeting, we took our partnership and commitment to Flint a step further when we partnered with more than 20 other companies and organizations to announce the commitment "mhNOW: Closing the mental health treatment gap." mhNOW's ambition is to activate leadership and empower cities to catalyze cross-sector collective actions to close the mental health gap in 30 cities, including Flint, by 2030. Flint will get more of the care that it needs - and communities across the world, from Kenya to Singapore, will benefit from this commitment as well.

While the CGI Annual Meeting concluded for the 12th and final time this week, the legacy of CGI will live on in partnerships like this. We all better serve communities in need when we combine our resources, ideas and expertise to address local and global issues alike, as CGI members have done for the past 11 years. The children of Flint are on a faster road to recovery thanks to the combined efforts and commitments of people and organizations, including those connected by CGI. The partnerships we've made and the impact our collaborations have had will create stronger, more resilient people and communities for years to come.