Access to healthcare is a global challenge. As a healthcare company, our primary contribution is to discover and develop new products to prevent and treat diseases, to ease suffering and to improve quality of life.
Expanding access to healthcare is a goal Novartis shares with governments, international agencies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), foundations and non governmental organisations. Barriers to access can be overcome only with effective and coordinated action by everyone involved and, working together, we can achieve our common goal.
At Novartis, expanding access begins with medical research, continues with product donations and new ways of doing business, and is supported by action to strengthen healthcare in both developing and advanced economies.
Our expanding access to healthcare programmes are valued at over USD 2 billion and reach more than 72 million patients globally. Millions more purchase high-quality, low-cost generics from our Sandoz division.
All leprosy patients in the world can receive free treatment from Novartis. We’ve extended our collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) to help end leprosy, an ancient disease that carries an intense social stigma. More than 5 million leprosy patients have received free treatment from Novartis through the WHO since 2000.
Novartis will continue to provide free medicines through to 2020. To complement this donation and further curb the incidence of leprosy, the Novartis Foundation announced a new strategy to achieve zero transmission of the disease.
Every second, Novartis delivers three malaria treatments. Over the past decade, the Novartis Malaria Initiative has become one of the healthcare industry’s largest access-to-medicine programs, delivering more than 700 million antimalarial treatments without profit, including 250 million pediatric treatments. Novartis is expanding its commitment by joining charity Malaria No More’s Power of One campaign and donating medicines to treat up to 3 million children with malaria through 2015. This donation will match the treatments purchased by the public, doubling their impact.
Every four seconds, someone is infected with tuberculosis. Yet, despite the loss of millions of lives, it remains one of the most neglected diseases by pharmaceutical companies due to its lack of commercial potential. Sandoz, the division of Novartis that makes generic medicines, has a long history of fighting TB and is the main provider of TB drugs to the World Health Organization.
While infectious diseases remain the biggest killers in developing countries, the pattern of disease is changing. For example, sub-Saharan Africa increasingly faces a ‘double burden’ of disease with a rising prevalence of noncommunicable diseases. Data indicate that people in Africa have the world’s highest incidence of elevated blood pressure and the number of strokes is expected to reach epidemic levels in coming years.
While many treatments already exist for these conditions, it’s hard to find clear data on how big the problem is. That’s due to many factors, including the reality that access to healthcare is restricted for millions of people in Africa due to a lack of physical infrastructure, such as transportation systems, and a lack of capacity within the healthcare system. For example, Africa has two physicians and nine hospital beds per 10 000 people. By contrast, Europe has 33 physicians and 62 beds for every 10 000 people.
To help get medicines to cancer patients in the developing world, we established the first global direct-to-patient access program. The Glivec International Patient Assistance program helps patients receive treatment for two rare cancers. The program has become one of the world’s most far-reaching patient assistance programs, active in more than 80 low- to middle-income countries. Our partner, The Max Foundation, also provides patients with emotional support in addition to medicines. The Novartis Oncology Access program provides assistance to patients with other cancers.
Social ventures build local, sustainable capabilities for healthcare around the world. These programs address societal problems that impact access to healthcare, including the need for education, infrastructure and healthcare distribution. Novartis has social ventures projects in India, Kenya, Vietnam, China and Zambia.