2015 – David Oot

In by Marc Pitre

*Read David Oot’s Dory Storms Award acceptance speech here.*

David Oot is a renowned leader in global health and child survival, dedicated to improving the lives of women and children for more than 40 years. He has led a distinguished career in both the government and nonprofit sectors, and influenced global policy, programs and partnerships supporting reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH) and nutrition.

For more than 17 years, David served as the Associate Vice President for global health and nutrition programs at Save the Children, where he strived for a more consistent and wider application of best practices, while concurrently spearheading efforts to test and evaluate innovations to inform future RMNCH policies and programs. His direction led to an exemplary record of results, reflected in successive child survival awards, reproductive health partnerships, and leadership roles in flagship programs such as USAID’s Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) and Strengthening Partnerships Results and Innovation in Nutrition Globally (SPRING).

David’s commitment to improving the wellbeing of mothers and children drove Saving Newborn Lives (SNL), the Save the Children program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that put newborn health on the global health agenda. In partnership with UNICEF, WHO, national governments, the private sector, universities, and other NGOs, SNL heightened awareness of the causes of under-five deaths, and what could be to address those causes, and built coalitions to establish policies and programs to prevent newborn deaths. Thanks to these efforts, newborn health is now fully integrated into national health policies and strategies in several dozen countries, and nations have committed to stepping up efforts to reduce newborn mortality through the Every Newborn Action Plan endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 2014. While Save the Children is one of many partners in this global effort, David and the SNL team played a leadership role in building the partnerships to create evidence, conduct advocacy, and set the stage for achieving results for children at scale.

Under David’s strategic leadership, Save the Children spearheaded innovative programming in Community Case Management (CCM), a strategy to deliver lifesaving treatments for childhood pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and other infections to communities lacking access to these basic lifesaving services. Save the Children has supported CCM in more than 20 countries and is a leader in CCM operations research, policy, and advocacy. David also led the development of the first “State of the World’s Mothers” report in 2000, which ranks the best and worst places to be a mother, and highlights the successes and challenges of motherhood in more than 170 countries. This report is now in its 15th year and is a highly-regarded resource on the health and survival of women and children worldwide.

Before joining Save the Children in 1997, David was a Peace Corps Volunteer in India, followed by more than 20 years as a health, population, and nutrition officer for USAID in Vietnam, Pakistan, Thailand, Kenya, and Nepal. He also served as chief of Population, Health, and Nutrition in USAID’s Bureau for Asia, and as Director of USAID’s Global Bureau Office of Health and Nutrition. David’s work in Kenya and Nepal contributed to dramatic increases in contraceptive use, and improvements in child survival.

Throughout his career, David excelled in establishing strong partnerships, relationships, and trust with people across sectors through his willingness to listen, advise, and always drive the best decision for children. He was frequently called upon for briefings on child survival, including events on the Hill, and provided testimony on child survival before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health in 2008.

David believes that shared approaches and credit lead to shared accountability. He has been a staunch supporter, advocate, and key spokesperson for CORE Group since its inception, which has sought his direction in strategizing how to keep community health in the forefront of the RMNCH agenda. He served on its first Board of Directors and continues to champion RMNCH, community health, and the role of PVOs in working with country counterparts to solve local bottlenecks.

Finally, David led the US Coalition for Child Survival since its inception, guiding the international community to focus on the health and wellbeing of women and children as critical to the foundation of a country’s economic potential, and to a human rights agenda. He has had a distinguished career over four decades, always finding time to inspire young professionals and to champion networking and collaboration among a wide array of partners, including CORE Group. His advice and friendship with many CORE Group colleagues and partner organizations has been critical for keeping the CORE Group Community Health Network strong.

David retired from his leadership role at Save the Children in December 2014, but still works to support child survival throughout the world