We believe that in order to achieve health for all, it is imperative to help health professionals and patients make informed decisions about treatment paths. This support includes building health capacity as well as awareness. As a prerequisite, health systems need to be strong and benefit from solid collaborations to build resilience against crises and emergencies.
Our approach to building health capacity and awareness
Capacity and awareness-building play key roles in our approach to improving access to health. We empower patients, communities, scientists, and healthcare professionals by providing appropriate tools, information and skills so that they can drive innovation and make informed decisions about prevention, diagnosis, treatment, care, and disease management.
The private sector is a crucial partner in responding to global health threats. Beyond developing innovative health solutions, we must also ensure that health systems are prepared to address emergencies effectively and deliver care to people in need. We aim to sustainably strengthen the prevention, preparedness and resilience capabilities of health systems in low- and middle-income countries. Our efforts include the following aspects:
- Using science and technology innovation to improve local health-related capabilities.
- Increasing country preparedness by enhancing scientific and healthcare workforce competencies and capacities through a network of experts.
- Forming partnerships to enhance disease awareness and address the challenge of enabling consistent access to medicines for all patients in need.
- Optimizing the monitoring and evaluation of health initiatives at country level through data processing and digitalization.
We apply this approach throughout the entire value chain in our collaborative programs and in our health education initiatives with our local partners in low- and middle-income countries.
Beyond our engagement in these countries, we also collaborate with committed global partners to conduct educational campaigns for prevention, early diagnosis and awareness. We focus primarily on the diseases in which we have the greatest expertise and direct our attention towards the patients and specific groups we believe will benefit most from the information. Our activities include specific initiatives that promote awareness for carers as well as women’s health and economic empowerment to expand their access to health.
Roles and responsibilities
Our Global Health organization leads collaborative capacity strengthening initiatives in low- and middle-income countries to support our mission of improving the health of the most vulnerable populations.
Our awareness initiatives are aligned with our Group strategic direction and planned by the various businesses. They are implemented either on global and/or local levels, with projects organized according to the specific needs of the relevant community. Our subsidiaries are also responsible for mobilizing our global campaigns locally.
Our commitment: access to health through awareness and education
Our strategy for addressing access to health incorporates the topic of awareness and education as detailed in our Access to Health Charter. Our campaigns and initiatives are also subject to the respective marketing principles set out in guidelines such as our Pharma Code for Conducting Pharmaceutical Business and Pharmaceutical Operations. In addition, our campaigns are governed by internal policies that guide our interactions with health systems and by communication material review processes that ensure we comply with global, regional and local rules and regulations.
Working with partners to achieve more
Our Global Health portfolio consists of collaborative initiatives that aim to strengthen the capacity and effectiveness of health systems in low- and middle-income countries. We support work in these four key areas:
Local research and development
We build scientific capacity through our R&D programs and focus primarily on schistosomiasis and malaria. Some examples include:
- The implementation of clinical trials in African health centers to test arpraziquantel as a potential new treatment option for pre-school age children infected with schistosomiasis. These trials have enabled local healthcare professionals to acquire valuable experience in Good Clinical Practice in preparation for future studies.
- Our partnership with the University of Cape Town for malaria drug discovery activities that transfer expertise and support the employment and training of talented young scientists.
- PAVON (Pan-African Vivax and Ovale Network), a network of centers for excellence to strengthen malaria surveillance and pandemic preparedness implemented in more than ten African countries.
Manufacturing and supply chains
We manufacture some of our products directly in the regions where they are needed. At the same time, we strengthen local manufacturing and supply chain capacities through technology and best practice transfers. Our aim is to increase service quality while ensuring safe, effective and reliable access to medicines where they are needed most.
- We apply this local production approach in our work with the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium to enable countries to become self-sufficient with respect to serving populations in need. In 2021, we signed a manufacturing agreement with Universal, a contract manufacturer in Kenya, for the large-scale production of the new pediatric treatment upon registration.
- We partner with Business for Health Solutions (BHS) to build sustainable supply chains of local distributors in Africa through our Access Delivery Mentorship program. This program engages with our volunteer pool of supply chain experts and was piloted in Tanzania with three distributors and one manufacturer in 2021.
- We are collaborating with the East African Community (EAC) Regional Centre of Excellence for Vaccines, Immunization and Health Supply Chain Management at the University of Rwanda to build a professional supply chain curriculum tailored to local needs and challenges.
Education and awareness raising
We invest in education and behavioral change initiatives that raise disease awareness.
- In Ethiopia, we operate a joint health education and WASH project in partnership with the NALA Foundation and the Ethiopian Ministry of Health. We are aiming to reach 50,000 community members in 8,000 households and more than 170,000 school-age children in districts with the highest prevalence of schistosomiasis.
- We are partnering with Foresight Global Health (FGH) to raise awareness about non-communicable diseases, with an initial focus on thyroid disorders, cardiovascular disease and prediabetes.
- In partnership with the Cardiological Society of India (CSI), the country’s largest professional cardiology association, we launched an initiative that raises awareness in populations with a high risk of cardiovascular diseases. This project was conceived in 2021 as part of an employee initiative. The aim is to foster shared value projects by crowdsourcing innovative proposals from business teams in low- and middle-income countries.
Health infrastructure and training
We build infrastructure and support training with a strong focus on African countries. In 2021, we
- supported the creation of a new clinical ward in Côte d’Ivoire that enabled Phase II and III trials as part of the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium program.
- helped set up integrated mobile health units in Cameroon for the diagnosis and treatment of female genital schistosomiasis (FGS), HIV, HPV, and cervical cancer for women aged 14-30. This initiative is also intended to improve the training and experience of local health professionals.
- supported the FAST (FGS Accelerated Scale Together) program to train more than 300 health professionals in sub-Saharan Africa, which resulted in over 200 action plans in 20 countries to address FGS.
- set up microscopy stations in Ghana and provided training sessions to improve local health workers’ ability to detect cases of malaria and other diseases that can be diagnosed via blood samples.
Global awareness campaigns
We regularly conduct campaigns to raise awareness of various diseases across the globe, often in collaboration with patient advocacy and carer groups. We focus on diseases that are aligned with our core competencies, expertise and experience along the health value chain. These diseases include cancer (specifically colorectal cancer, head and neck cancer and bladder cancer), thyroid disorders, diabetes, infertility, and multiple sclerosis. Throughout the year, we also conduct awareness campaigns that focus on tropical diseases, such as schistosomiasis and malaria.
We actively participated in several awareness days:
January 30: World NTD Day
World NTD Day brings together civil society advocates, community leaders, global health experts, and policymakers working across the diverse landscape to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases.
February 4: World Cancer Day
February 4 marks World Cancer Day, an annual initiative led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). It aims to raise cancer awareness and improve its prevention, detection and treatment. In 2021, the theme was “I Am and I Will”.
March 22: World Water Day
World Water Day focuses on the importance of fresh water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. World Water Day supports the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation.
April 7: World Health Day
World Health Day creates awareness about a specific health theme each year to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization. In 2021, the theme was “Building a fairer, healthier world”.
April 25: World Malaria Day
World Malaria Day highlights the need for continued investment in and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control.
May 25-31: Thyroid Awareness Week
In collaboration with the Thyroid Federation International (TFI), the annual awareness campaign – which, in 2021, took place with the slogan “Spread Your Wings – Be Thyroid Aware” – aims to highlight some of the lesser-known aspects of thyroid disorders.
May 30: World Multiple Sclerosis Day
World Multiple Sclerosis Day is an annual awareness day by the MS International Federation (MSIF). It brings the global MS community together to share stories, raise awareness and campaign with everyone affected by multiple sclerosis. In 2021, the day was promoted via “#MSConnections”.
August 20: World Mosquito Day
World Mosquito Day is a global commemoration of the discovery in 1897 that female Anopheles mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans. It aims to shine an international spotlight on the ongoing efforts to fight against mosquito-transmitted diseases.
November 1-7: European Fertility Week
European Fertility Week raises awareness about infertility and conveys the issues faced by people with infertility. It also aims to remove the stigma around infertility and to amplify the issue of unequal access to treatment in Europe. This year´s topic was “Challenge the Odds”.
November 10: World Science Day
World Science Day for Peace and Development highlights the important role of science in society and the need to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues. By linking science more closely with society, World Science Day for Peace and Development aims to ensure that citizens are kept informed about important scientific developments.
November 14: World Diabetes Day
World Diabetes Day was created in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by diabetes. The campaign, which was themed “Access to Diabetes Care” in 2021, aims to keep diabetes in both the public and political spotlight.
December 12: Universal Health Coverage Day
International Universal Health Coverage Day aims to raise awareness of the need for strong and resilient health systems and universal health coverage.
Healthy Women, Healthy Economies and Embracing Carers® are two initiatives we are using to promote awareness of public health issues extending beyond patients. The interconnectedness of both initiatives is rooted in shared themes and goals. The majority of unpaid and underpaid caregiving hours globally are provided by women and girls. Effective caregiving is intrinsically linked to the health, well-being and prosperity of women. Through these initiatives, we aim to both promote and support women’s health and economic empowerment and expand access to health.
Healthy Women, Healthy Economies
To empower women to overcome the challenges of communicable and non-communicable diseases and reach their economic potential, we are committed to the Healthy Women, Healthy Economies initiative – a public-private partnership founded within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). As the founding private-sector partner, we collaborate with representatives from several APEC governments to promote activities and policies that support women’s economic empowerment.
Since 2019, the APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Research Prize has spotlighted sex-disaggregated research that enables policy makers, business leaders and other stakeholders to identify and implement measures that improve women’s health in APEC economies. This year’s prize money of US$ 20,000 was awarded to a team of scientists for their research into the impacts of care work on women’s economic participation.
Embracing Carers® is our global initiative led in collaboration with prominent caregiving organizations from around the world. Embracing Carers® is designed to increase awareness, action and discussion around the frequently overlooked needs of unpaid caregivers.
In 2021, we published a global report on the unmet physical, financial and emotional well-being challenges that unpaid carers face amid the Covid-19 crisis. Covering 12 countries on five continents, the report explained how these challenges differ by gender, socio-economic status, country, and the level of care needed. From this data we produced a series of policy recommendations for governments to create better support and protection for caregivers. We also looked at how employers can create caregiver-friendly workplaces and launched an internal campaign to raise awareness and provide support to our own employees with caregiver responsibilities.