This week, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual Executive Board meeting is being held in Geneva. Over the course of six days, members will agree on the agenda and resolutions to be considered at this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA).
As a coalition, we spend a lot of time talking about the need for more collaboration between global institutions, like the WHO, and the private sector, but it is worth pointing out the extensive work that is already taking place between the public and private sectors.
We have included a few examples below that demonstrate how the private sector is helping to tackle challenges around the world.
Jordan: Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, a vast number of Syrian refugees have fled to bordering countries. The Al-Mafraq region in Jordan hosts a substantial number of refugees due to border proximity, and the increase in inhabitants has put considerable strain on the government’s medical facilities. Siemens, working with the Jordanian Ministry of Health, uses solar energy to service patients from vulnerable communities in the area with the Connected Solar Clinic. The clinic is the first structure of its kind and can be transported and set up quickly. It is entirely autonomous from the electric grid, and the range of medical devices are all solar-powered — a characteristic that is incredibly important in remote areas and for linkage to the Ministry of Health’s digital platform.
Ukraine: After noticing a lack of access to tests needed to diagnose lymphoma in Ukraine, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company worked with a variety of partners to create a program that provides greater access to care for lymphoma, including diagnostic tests and on-the-ground training of local clinicians. Partners included Charkasky Onco Dispenser, CSD Health Care Clinic, the National Cancer Institute of Health Ukraine, and the National Hematology Institute of Ukraine.
France: One of Pernod Ricard’s key commitments is promoting responsible hosting. Although their products bring people together, they recognize that the harmful use of alcohol can cause serious problems to individuals and communities. By 2030, each affiliate of Pernod Ricard around the world will have one or more programs in partnership, at scale and evaluated, to fight alcohol misuse. They have already launched Responsible Party — the company’s flagship responsible drinking program, where they partner with Erasmus Student Network to tackle the harmful use of alcohol among exchange students. By 2030, the company plans to expand the program globally to reach at least 1 million young adults.
Brazil: On October 30, 2019, GSK Brazil and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) announced that Brazil has become the first malaria-endemic country to approve single-dose tafenoquine for the radical cure of relapsing P. vivax malaria. The Ministry of Health, in partnership with MMV, will conduct a study which will assist the Ministry of Health in understanding how to best deploy the drug in endemic areas. According to Dr. Marcus Lacerda, Director of Research at the Tropical Medicine Foundation: “This approval is an important step forward for malaria control and elimination in Brazil and in the Amazon region. After years of research, and following completion of the feasibility study, we hope to finally have a new tool that is appropriate for use in the population that is vulnerable to malaria — enabling patients to complete the treatment course.”
Switzerland: Nestlé, Bühler, and Givaudan recently founded a joint research program, the Future Food Initiative, with several Swiss universities. The Initiative will educate and train new talent to foster food and nutrition research in areas relevant to healthy foods, sustainability, and societal impact. Stefan Palzer, CTO of Nestlé S.A. said, “We accelerate innovation in collaboration with a variety of external partners, including world-class academia, globally leading suppliers and creative start-ups across the world. To address open scientific questions and challenges related to food trends and sustainable nutrition is key for us as we create tasty and nutritious food for all age groups.”
Spain: After severe flooding left the area around the city of Alzira without access to healthcare in the early 1990’s, the Valencia Community Ministry wanted to open a new hospital to serve area residents. Alongside a variety of private sector partners, a partnership was formed to not only build the La Ribera hospital but also improve the delivery of clinical services within the new hospital for the initial population of 230,000 residents. After the partnership designed, constructed, and opened the hospital in 1999, private sector partners spent the following decade implementing community outreach campaigns to educate residents about the services available, as well as improving management practices and incorporating new innovations in patient care. Following the success of the initial partnership, the Valencian government and private sector partners teamed up to replicate this model across four additional health departments. According to evaluators, the “PPIP model has allowed the Valencia community to achieve a significant return on its health investment for nearly 20% of its population, while increasing access to high quality medical care, expanding and upgrading health infrastructure, and encouraging innovative practices for improving healthcare management.”