Mohamad Ali Cheaito
In an attempt to understand the HER Fund’s goals and visions, Outlook met with one of its cofounders, Anwar Nassar, MD, who also discussed upcoming plans and events for the initiative.
Established in April 2013, the HER Fund is a fundraising initiative affiliated with the Women’s Health Center at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at AUBMC and run by a group of dedicated volunteers.
Nassar, who is also the chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at AUBMC, explained that the idea of the fund came about to help cover the medical expenses of women who suffer from critical and life threatening obstetrical and gynecological conditions.
“HER Fund is Heal her, Embrace her, Remember her,” said Nassar, “It is a fund that was created to help women with serious gynecological or obstetrical conditions and who are underprivileged and cannot afford paying all or part of the cost of their treatment, or even diagnostic procedures, as much as the fund can help, given the financial ceiling.”
When asked about the eligible candidates, Nassar explained that they work hand in hand with AUBMC’s Social Services Office to decide on the person’s economic status and needs in order to proceed with the funding accordingly.
“The Social Services Office classifies the women as highly eligible, minimally eligible, or not eligible. Highly eligible patients usually have 100 percent coverage, while minimally eligible patients are provided with the certain percentage they cannot cover themselves,” he said.
HER Fund covers complex gynecologic conditions (such as female cancers and diseases requiring minimally invasive techniques) and high-risk obstetric conditions (such as pregnancies complicated by birth defects, genetic disorders, and life-threatening placental conditions).
Three goals control the fund: providing effective and compassionate care, covering the costs of expensive diagnostic tests and treatments, and increasing awareness regarding women’s health problems.
Nassar elaborated on how they plan to achieve the latter through the use of social media campaigns as well as large-scale events, the foremost being an awareness event open to all women which will take place in January 2017 at the Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut.
HER Fund seeks to expand their funds with other events, including a fundraising Christmas concert by Beirut Vocal Point set for December 11 at Assembly Hall – AUB and another surprise event in January 2017.
Nassar said that some AUB clubs are also helping to increase the fund’s exposure by offering to sell tickets for the fund’s upcoming events. He also mentioned that they are in the process of preparing for the second gala dinner which will be happening sometime next year and whose details are to be announced later.
This comes after the great success of the first edition of last year’s gala dinner, which hosted names like Elie Saab, Nadine Labaki, Naguib Sawiris, and many others.
“We have women that are helping us and we are reaching out to other women, because we need to expand and brainstorm for new ideas and new options,” Nassar said. “Also, all volunteers are welcome to help in any way they can.”
The fund is currently focused on a word of mouth strategy to advertise their initiative. They also received a large amount of patients after their first few successful procedures.
When asked about future plans for the fund, Nassar noted that the fund will continue to cover patients under the umbrella of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at AUBMC.
The HER Fund initiative is one of the keystones of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s 140-year mission of providing patient care, education, and research across women’s lifespans.
“We offer our help to any woman who needs help – regardless of race, social status, religion, or even nationality,” said Nassar. “We rely on everybody’s support, even if it is a one-dollar donation or buying a ticket for our events. It is important to know that whatever anyone pays will make a difference in the life of a person.”