The ones who make it happen: In conversation with Cheena Malhotra, Senior Health Specialist, Crown Agents Global Health
Based in India, Cheena contextualises different health programmes from Western to Eastern settings, and vice-versa. We recently sat down with her to discuss her exciting portfolio of programmes that she has been part of since she joined Crown Agents in 2022, and get a glimpse into her predictions for the future of international development and health.
When you say international development challenges need a 360 degree solution, what do you mean by this?
“When implementing health programmes during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, one major challenge was ensuring that those suffering from NCDs like cancer and diabetes received life-saving prescription medicines and therefore the delivery element in amidst a global pandemic was extremely important.”
“I joined Crown Agents because we are not limited to one area of expertise, but work across several practice areas. With the organisation’s extensive supply chain and procurement management system, we are able to commit to last-mile delivery, even in the most remote locations. This sets us apart and makes comprehensive healthcare accessible and available to those who need it most. Furthermore, the variety of the services we offer, from programme delivery to technical consultancy, attracts a roster of staff with varying levels of expertise and backgrounds and enables us to tailor our services to the needs funders, Philanthropists, investors, governments, bi-lateral and multilateral organisations.”
Please give us a taster of some of the work you are involved in at Crown Agents.
“I work as a member of the health team, where my primary responsibility is to ensure the delivery of projects within the health cluster, but I also continue putting my expertise in the field of NCDs to use. Although, I am applying my previous corporate social responsibility experience here at Crown Agents with our Philanthropy and Partnerships (P&P) team. Half of my time is spent collaborating with the P&P team in liaising with partners, donors, and investors about the possibility of expanding their portfolios and investments in the health sector. I believe that Crown Agents has the unique ability to transform and scale the impact of their donations in the health sector on a long-term basis in three broad areas: health supply chain technical services, sustainable health and humanitarian programming, and government/health system strengthening initiatives.”
“In addition to these responsibilities, I focus on identifying potential projects in India, Nepal, Suriname, and Bangladesh as part of laying the foundation for our Southeast Asian expansion- something I am excited about leading on! Currently, I provide technical support to our ‘Resilience and Recovery: Strengthening COVID-19 and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), Integration’ programme in Suriname, which is funded by Newmount. The programme’s aim is to integrate COVID-19 and NCD services into the national healthcare delivery system. The programme has already demonstrated very positive outcomes and its methodology can be adapted for use in other countries.”
What are some of your achievements whilst working here at Crown Agents?
“I am honoured to have received the endorsement from the Crown Agents Executive Team to bring our Southeast Asia expansion plan to fruition. The potential for project implementation in the region is tremendous and I am also working on my India expansion plan. This foray into Southeast Asia aligns with our strategic objective of diversifying our geography, and members of our executive leadership, starting with our Global Director of Philanthropy and Private Partnerships, are scheduled to visit India soon.”
“Secondly, I’d say that I am extremely proud to have managed a GAVI-supported programme in Bangladesh that is centred around providing monitoring services to the government in relation to the implementation of the COVAX-supported immunisation programme.”
“Finally, I’m looking forward to taking forward the valuable insights gained from our NCDs and COVID-19 integration programme in Suriname and exploring how they can be applied to future projects.”
How do you feel about the future when looking at the international development and public health space?
“Organisations like us should focus on unlocking funding opportunities for robust solutions to support countries in the continuum of care approach, which is not only life-saving for the communities we serve, but also strengthens the economy of developing countries. For us to achieve this, we must continue to engage with new geographies, which is why I am very optimistic about expanding both our presence and portfolio in Southeast Asia.”
Cheena Malhotra, a nutritionist by trade with over 15 years of experience, is a Senior Health Consultant at Crown Agents. Cheena is a public health expert with expertise in programme management, policy advocacy, Non- Communicable Diseases (NCDs), nutrition, capacity building, and resource mobilization. She holds a postgraduate degree in Nutrition and Public Health and recently finished a Fellowship in Global Policy, Diplomacy, and Sustainability.
With over 15 years of experience in development and working for private sector organizations such as Project HOPE, Roche Pharmaceuticals, and the People to People Health Foundation, Cheena has led technical and managerial efforts in various health programmes across countries such as India, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates and Nepal. She has a proven track record of collaborating with private partners, government agencies, advocacy groups, and think tanks to leverage Public-Private Partnerships and enhance programme implementation and health policy.