Coca-Cola EMEA Group President, Brian Smith’s recent visit to Ivory Coast was especially significant for the country’s health authorities with the launch of the Safe Birth Initiative (SBI) – a signature partnership with the Health Ministry to help reduce the country’s extremely high maternal and neonatal mortality rates.

Announcing the program at a meeting with President Alassane Ouatarra at the State House in Abidjan, Brian said “The commitment to help promote sustainable development in our communities is a fundamental part of Coca-Cola’s strategy for sustainable business growth. The Safe Birth Initiative, demonstrates this commitment and will help save the precious lives of many mothers and newborns and also support the remarkable efforts of the Ivorian government at rebuilding this vibrant country”.

President Ouatarra expressed appreciation for Coca-Cola’s support for the Ivorian economy and communities. “Your new program will translate to improved healthcare and budget savings which will now be channeled to other needs” he said, noting that the country recorded a weak performance in maternal and child health under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Coca-Cola will work with Medshare International on the Safe Birth Initiative, and the US-based not-for-profit will leverage a network of donors to deliver $11.8 million worth of medical equipment, kits and supplies to strengthen the capacity of maternal and neonatal wards in selected public hospitals, enabling safe deliveries and post-delivery emergency care for both mothers and their newborns. The program also includes training of end-users and biomedical technicians to effectively operate and maintain the donated equipment.

Brian Smith's visit marks the launch of the Safe Birth Initiative in Ivory Coast

At a cocktail event with Coca-Cola System leaders and stakeholders where the SBI partnership agreement was signed, the Ivorian Minister of Health, Dr. Goudou Coffi, described maternal and newborn healthcare as a public health priority in the country, adding “Coca-Cola’s support through the Safe Birth Initiative will significantly strengthen our healthcare capacity towards achieving our Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets on maternal and newborn mortalities”.

West Africa Business Unit President, Peter Njonjo, told guests at the event that Coca-Cola has a special relationship with women who are pillars of our business, especially in Africa, where women play a dominant role in our distribution and retail network. “Just like our 5by20 Initiative, the Safe Birth Initiative, which will be inaugurated in Ivory Coast and Nigeria, will enable us to promote the wellbeing of women”, Peter added.

Brian also interacted with WABU associates at a Townhall, where he spoke on the Company’s new growth strategy, affirming the commitment by the Leadership to the vision of an agile, consumer-centric and growth-oriented total beverage company.