New Pfizer Global Health Fellow Anticipates Making a Difference in Senegal

“Everything I did in my life prepared me for this fellowship,” says Melanie Martel, a senior brand manager with Pfizer and now a part of its prestigious Global Health Fellows (GHF) program, “from my first community experience working as a pharmacist in Madagascar, to all my marketing positions in Europe and Oceania, working on anti-infectives . . . specifically on HIV/ AIDS.”

Using her communications skills to improve health
Starting at the end of September 2010, Melanie will spend six months working with IntraHealth International in Senegal to support improved maternal and child health programs and increased use of family planning. She will focus on assisting with the design and development of the project’s internal and external communications, including web stories and brochures.

This particular fellowship interested Melanie since it will provide her the opportunity to utilize her professional experience and skills to work in communications and with the media; both are “very interesting, creative, and powerful tools of marketing,” she says. Melanie has experience in developing communications campaigns and materials. She explains that in this case, tools will be applied to improve health services—specifically family planning and malaria prevention and treatment, to ensure that communities, especially women and children, benefit from IntraHealth’s programs. 

Embracing a new culture
Born and raised in France, Melanie spent five years of her adult life in Sydney, Australia before returning to Paris where she currently lives. She is excited about living in a new culture and country.  “I am sure this experience will bring humility, happiness and a sense of worth to my life, meeting new people, and embracing a new culture while facing a different reality.”

“I am hoping to be ‘adopted’ by the Senegalese IntraHealth team,” Melanie says, “and to contribute to their mission in the best way I can.”

Pfizer’s commitment to capacity-building projects
Melanie has worked for Pfizer for five years. From her first day at Pfizer, Melanie says she hoped to become a fellow. “I patiently waited to be able to fulfill the entry criteria and apply for the program,” Melanie admits.

The GHF program is open to Pfizer colleagues with at least three years of tenure, in addition to having a strong performance history and experience with underserved populations. Pfizer continues to pay Global Health Fellows’ salaries, as well as work-related travel and living expenses throughout the assignment.

The GHF program’s mission is to utilize the professional expertise of Pfizer colleagues through specialized volunteer assignments (three to six months) with nonprofit organizations to improve health care services for underserved communities around the world.

Melanie will work with the Senegal Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health/Family Planning/Malaria Project, led by IntraHealth International and funded by USAID.

IntraHealth’s history of collaboration with Pfizer
IntraHealth began participating in the Pfizer Global Health Fellows program six years ago; Melanie is IntraHealth’s sixth Global Health Fellow.

To learn more about the GHF program, Pfizer’s Corporate Responsibility’s Flagship program in their Investments in Health portfolio, go to www.pfizer.com/responsibility.

“Through our collaboration with Pfizer, we are learning invaluable lessons on how to leverage the potential of the private sector in solving global health issues,” notes Pape Gaye, IntraHealth president and CEO. “From our perspective, Pfizer is setting the stage for meaningful engagement of private corporations in both combating diseases and strengthening the health care systems in the developing world. I hope many other corporations will adopt the Global Health Fellows program as a viable model.”