global health

Taking Geography out of Healthcare

Disease does not discriminate; it’s blinded to age, race, riches or creed, but the ability to see a doctor, to access treatment, to make your voice heard varies wildly depending on where you live in the world. Working hand in hand with local partners around the globe, we see firsthand the obstacles that stop people having the healthcare they need, be it the remoteness of the healthcare center or the rarest of the disease. 

We help improve access to healthcare in low- and middle-income countries for the most isolated people and continue fighting to stamp out neglected and infectious diseases, while working with an international community of actors to fortify all our efforts to promote prevention and provide treatment.

This month, Sanofi participates in a number of key global health events, first in Lyon, where Kathleen Tregoning, Executive Vice President of External Affairs, will attend the Global Fund Replenishment Conference. The Fund, which aims to raise $14 billion in the fight to end AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria by 2030, is actively engaged with the pharma industry on its role in combatting these diseases and bringing clinical innovations to patients impacted by them. 

Later in the month David Loew, Executive Vice President of Sanofi Pasteur, will participate in the World Health Summit in Berlin, a leading international forum for global health. He will deliver a keynote address and also explore the “Sustainability of Healthcare Systems: Closing the Gap of Immunization”, a gap that can be due to, among others, aging–our article on inequalities in immunization highlights how people over 60 are falling through the cracks of immunization programs worldwide–or lack of access through living in a conflict country. 

Latif Syed experienced the impact of conflict on his community’s access to vaccines. A vaccinator for 20 years, Latif was seriously injured following an attack by the Taliban on his vaccination center and school in 2013 in Pakistan, one of the three remaining countries where polio still circulates.

Despite his injuries from the attack Latif powered through and in 2016 visited Sanofi Pasteur to better understand how vaccines are made in order to help him convince vaccine hesitant families. Inspired by his courage and resilience, Sanofi promised to financially help Latif rebuild and in late September, David travelled to the capital Karachi for the reopening of the school and the center. 

Latif’s resilience is key to developing future solutions and sustainable health systems where access to healthcare, local skills and funding are problematic, but it is also a crucial component of the science behind our medicine. 

Last year we celebrated the European Medicine Agency’s positive scientific opinion of the new oral drug fexinidazole to treat sleeping sickness, which was the culmination of 20 years of medical research with international collaborations. 

Fexinidazole, which received market authorization in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in January, has been donated by Sanofi to the World Health Organization. The drug is due to arrive before the end of the year in Kinshasa (DRC), a country particularly badly hit with this devastating disease that threatens the lives of more than 65 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. If not diagnosed and treated in time, sleeping sickness can prove fatal. 

As Kathleen explained at the World Health Assembly, which took place in May this year, the philanthropic model was necessary in the absence of a market, but philanthropy is not a long-lasting solution if our global reach is to last; building sustainable healthcare with our partners and collaborators is. This means investing in local training, educating the next generation, developing digital tools to improve how we monitor patients and delivering treatment to those who need it.

Sustainability is also a challenge that stands in the way of complete eradication, when donor fatigue and loss of momentum prevent treatment reaching the last cases. Sanofi and our partner, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, a non-profit research and development organization, will host the workshop, “How to ensure sustainable elimination of NTDs: a focus on sleeping sickness”, to address this obstacle during the Berlin World Health Summit. 

Sanofi will also lead a round table at the Summit on “Digital Health: Shaping Society and the Modern Economy” to discuss how technology is blurring the boundaries between the physical, biological and digital worlds in response to the financial impact on health of a growing, ageing global population.

The next step, not just in the development of digital solutions, but in all of Sanofi’s efforts in global health, is to ensure our role in the global collaboration for sustainable solutions, feasible innovations, and the scale-up of implementation.

 

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