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-building 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, skills and information so that they can 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 and applying adapted mechanisms for access to medicines, we support countries in building up infrastructure and expertise for preparedness of local health systems to deliver care to all patients in need and address emergencies effectively. That is why we invest to sustainably strengthen the prevention, preparedness and resilience capabilities of health systems in low- and middle-income countries. Our efforts include the following aspects:
- Increasing country preparedness by enhancing scientific and healthcare workforce competencies and capacities through a network of experts.
- Forming partnerships to extend 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 operationalize these elements along the entire value chain in our collaborative programs and through our health education initiatives with our local partners.
We also collaborate with committed global partners to conduct educational campaigns for prevention, early diagnosis and awareness. We focus primarily on the diseases for which we have the greatest expertise. 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 and awareness 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 national 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:
- Clinical trials in African health centers to investigate arpraziquantel as a potential new treatment option for pre-school children infected with schistosomiasis. These trials have enabled local healthcare professionals to acquire valuable experience in Good Clinical Practice, which they can apply in future studies.
- Our partnership with the University of Cape Town for malaria drug discovery activities that transfers scientific expertise and supports the employment and training of talented local young scientists.
- PAVON (Pan-African Vivax and Ovale Network), a network of centers for excellence on malaria surveillance and pandemic preparedness implemented in more than ten African countries. The project offers training to African scientists in a collective effort to strengthen local health systems to treat all forms of malaria.
Manufacturing and supply chains
We manufacture some of our products directly in the regions where they are needed. We also 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 quality medicines where they are needed most.
- We produce praziquantel, the standard-of-care treatment for schistosomiasis, in our production facility in Mexico, to enable the provision of up to 250 million tablets per year to treat the disease, mainly in school-age children.
- We apply a local production approach in our work with the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium to help countries become self-sufficient and serve local populations in need. Following our 2021 manufacturing agreement with Universal, a contract manufacturer in Kenya, we are preparing for the large-scale production of arpraziquantel upon its registration, in addition to production by Farmaguinhos in Brazil.
- We partner with Business for Health Solutions (BHS) to build sustainable supply chains of local distributors in Africa through our Access Delivery Mentorship program. In 2022, we started three collaborations with distributors, thus a total of six distributors in five different countries.
Education and awareness raising
We invest in education and behavioral change initiatives that raise disease awareness. Examples of those initiatives include:
- 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.
- In partnership with the Cardiological Society of India (CSI), the country’s largest professional cardiology association, we implemented an initiative that raises awareness in populations with a high risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- To support behavioral change for schistosomiasis elimination, we have introduced the Bilharzia Storytelling Lab. The lab brings together storytellers, health experts and community leaders from one country to develop creative communication products that provide accessible and tailored disease information to risk groups. We award the most promising solution with a € 10,000 prize. We intend to apply the concept in several endemic countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The first lab took place in Kenya in 2021, the second in November 2022 in Rwanda.
Health infrastructure and training
We build infrastructure and support training with a strong focus on African countries. In 2022, we
- supported the management of integrated mobile health units in Cameroon to diagnose and treat female genital schistosomiasis, HIV, HPV, and cervical cancer for women aged 14 to 30. This initiative includes training to enhance the skills and experience of local health professionals;
- set up microscopy stations in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Botswana and provided training sessions to improve local health workers’ ability to detect malaria and other diseases that can be diagnosed via blood samples;
- implemented our collaborative access to water program in Ghana to improve healthcare infrastructure through safe water services in health centers as well as training to health workers on schistosomiasis case management;
- partnered with the H3D Foundation at the University of Cape Town to co-create a Massive Open Online Course on research and development for young African scientists. Participants earn a certification after taking the course and can also join a Mentorship Program delivered by R&D employees of our company.
More information can be found under Global Health.
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:
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, who collaborate across disciplines 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 2022, the theme was “Close The Care Gap”.
March 22: World Water Day
Held on 22 March every year since 1993, it celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2 billion people living without access to safe water.
April 7: World Health Day
World Health Day raises awareness about a specific health theme each year to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization. In 2022, the theme was “Our Planet, Our Health”.
April 25: World Malaria Day
World Malaria Day highlights the need for continued investment in and sustained political commitment to malaria prevention and control.
May 25-31: Thyroid Awareness Week
In collaboration with the Thyroid Federation International (TFI), the annual awareness campaign, which used the slogan “Do You Speak Thyroid?” in 2022, focused on preventing information from being lost in translation between thyroid patients and their caregiver teams.
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 2022, it focused on supporting the community to create meaningful connections.
July 27: World Head And Neck Cancer Day
World Head and Neck Cancer Day is an opportunity to inform the general public about head and neck cancer and recognize the impact it has on those affected in the community.
August 1: World Lung Cancer Day
The Forum of International Respiratory Societies has observed World Lung Cancer Day every year since 2012 to raise awareness about the risk factors of the disease.
September 29: World Heart Day
World Heart Day was established by the World Heart Federation and increases awareness about cardiovascular diseases and how to control them to negate their global impact.
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 amplify the issue of unequal access to treatment in Europe.
November 10: World Science Day
World Science Day for Peace and Development highlights the vital role of science in society and the need to engage the broader 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 2022 campaign, the theme of which was “Education to Protect Tomorrow“, aimed to keep diabetes in both the public and political spotlight.
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. 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).
Since 2019, the APEC Healthy Women, Healthy Economies Research Prize, which we support, has highlighted sex-disaggregated research that enables policymakers, business leaders and other stakeholders to identify and implement measures that improve women’s health in APEC economies. The 2022 prize of US$ 20,000 was awarded to Zheng Ruimin, Director of the Women's Health Care Department at China’s National Center for Women and Children's Health, for an innovative study that developed a comprehensive, accessible and affordable maternal depression screening strategy.
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.
To follow up on our 2021 survey, Embracing Carers® worked with global carer advocacy organizations to conduct focus groups with carers to better understand their problems and what can be done to address their needs. This information forms the basis of planning to provide greater support for caregivers, particularly with respect to their mental and emotional health needs.