Huge progress has been made in reducing the numbers of people affected by infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and sleeping sickness, but these diseases have been backed geographically into a corner, continuing to disproportionally affect the most vulnerable populations and reemerging in some areas as is the case with malaria in sub-Saharan countries.
Sanofi’s perspective and approach to health care, however, is one of inclusiveness, one that crosses borders and cultures and constantly looks for sustainable ways to treat people in nearly every corner of the globe, while working alongside local partners and the international community.
Tackling these infectious diseases was high on the agenda of three global health events that Sanofi took part in throughout October.
The month kicked off with the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment Conference to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, hosted by President Macron in Lyon. The event raised more than US$14 billion, money that will help save 16 million lives in the next three years with the aim to end the three epidemics by 2030.
Sanofi’s Kathleen Tregoning, Executive Vice-President, External Affairs, invited to represent the overall pharmaceutical industry, told a global audience, “Innovation is just not about “upstream” R&D but also “downstream” delivery. Innovation is only valuable to patients if novel solutions are adopted and get to the patients who need them.”
Together with its partner, Roll Back Malaria, Sanofi created the “Zero Malaria Village” to give a glimpse into the daily life of local communities that are confronted with malaria and discussed with visitors what malaria is, how it is transmitted, what treatments are available and how community awareness and action are carried out in the field.
Sanofi also showcased its recent digital awareness tool, a PC-based MOSKI MEMORY® game that gives kids a modern, multilevel quiz to learn about the dangers of malaria while playing, and short digital messages on malaria prevention.
Tuberculosis (TB) was also on the agenda in October at the 50th World Union Conference on TB and Lung Health in Hyderabad, India. Providing preventive treatment to broader populations from low- and-middle-income countries with high numbers of TB is an essential component of the World Health Organization’s End TB strategy. In support of this strategy, Sanofi along with international organization Unitaid and the Global Fund agreed on the supply of a large number of treatments, priced according to volume, to combat latent tuberculosis infection.
Sanofi also took the opportunity to announce the launch of two digital tools to help raise awareness about TB, one of the top ten causes of death globally, with a special focus on the dormant form of the disease, latent TB infection (LTBI).
A dedicated website, www.ltbi.com, has been designed to provide information around managing TB and LTBI and a set of e-learning modules on LTBI, developed in partnership with the Union, aims to help clinicians, health care workers and national TB program managers better identify and successfully treat infection.
Digital solutions were also at the forefront of discussions at the World Health Summit in Berlin, where Bernard Hamelin, Global Head, Medical Evidence Generation, took part in a round table on “Digital Health: Shaping Society and the Modern Economy.” The discussion ended with a call for greater urgency to realize the transformative potential of digital technology and data science in the design of better care management tools and the sustainability of health systems.
David Loew, Executive Vice President of Sanofi Pasteur carried on the discussion around sustainable health systems during a round table on the “Sustainability of Healthcare Systems: Closing the Gap of Immunization”, a timely address given Sanofi’s focus in October on vaccine coverage, not only on the start of the flu season but also on World Polio Day.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries left with endemic wild polio with 72 new cases reported in Pakistan this year alone. However, an outbreak of polio was declared in the Philippines in September, underscoring the importance of maintaining the momentum to go the last mile.
This last push also underlies the strategy behind one of the neglected tropical disease (NTD), sleeping sickness. While the number of reported cases has continued to drop over the years, from nearly 37,000 new cases in 1999, compared to 977 in 2018, the disease still threatens the lives of more than 65 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.
To highlight the difficulty of remaining engaged right to the end, when donor fatigue and loss of momentum prevent treatment reaching the last cases, Sanofi organized in Berlin, in partnership with the non-profit research & development organization, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, a workshop on “How to ensure sustainable elimination of NTDs: a focus on sleeping sickness”. Luc Kuykens, Head of Global Health Programs, together with WHO, DNDi, MSF and a local national program head, discussed how to design and implement new strategies with sleeping sickness treatment, Fexinidazole, with the goal of eliminating the disease by 2030.
Above the noise of today’s competing global causes demanding funding, coverage and change, it can be easy to forget about diseases that afflict the few in far-off places. So it’s important that Sanofi and the global community remain vigilant and committed.