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Pfizer: Bringing Resources to Bear to Improve Global Health

SOURCE: Ethical Performance


Originally published in Best Practice - Spring 2017 issue

Pfizer believes its business and societal missions are the same: to ensure that all individuals everywhere have access to quality medicines, vaccines and healthcare, and the opportunity to lead healthy lives. Every day, the company strives to use its full resources – people, products and funding – to find new ways to positively impact the health of people around the world. 

Historically, the private sector has focused on traditional philanthropic approaches of cash and product donations to address global health needs. However, against the backdrop of a dramatically changing world, companies like Pfizer are also changing their approach. Pfizer now aims to build on its current footprint of programs with new approaches and solutions that reflect the unique needs of each community – and ultimately, that accelerate the impact on global health.

To achieve these goals, Pfizer must reach patients who are in need faster and build sustainable infrastructure while being careful not to compromise quality or safety. The company works with its partners to take a measured approach, using analytics and research resources to collect outcomes data before launching at scale. Nearly all of Pfizer’s initiatives to improve global health begin as pilot programs; only after careful evaluation of effectiveness and consideration of local nuances are programs expanded to serve a broader population.

A few of these programs include:

Advancing the Health of Women and Children in the Developing World
The Pfizer Foundation’s* Global Health Innovation Grants aim to improve health delivery and support social innovation with a direct focus on improving healthcare access and quality for women. A key component in achieving these objectives is the support of women entrepreneurs with financing and technical assistance to allow them to grow their businesses.

A social venture in India, ayzh, provides appropriate health products to improve women’s health (reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent) in low resource settings. Its core product is a $3 Clean Birth Kit, which provides women essential components recommended by the World Health Organization for a safe and hygienic birth. Pfizer’s support has helped ayzh to expand its services in India, including hosting empowerment camps to directly engage approximately 1,000 pregnant women to date on the elements of a healthy and hygienic birth. Additionally, the program will help fund the creation of two additional manufacturing and distribution hubs that employ local women, and is expected to impact the lives of 18,000 mothers.

Jacaranda Health provides affordable, high quality maternity services to underserved women in Kenya through a network of maternity hospitals. Jacaranda’s work is focused on improving the critical capacity and skills gaps that can be an impediment to quality care. Pfizer’s support allowed Jacaranda to pilot an innovative approach to sustaining and retaining critical emergency obstetric and newborn care skills in government hospitals. The program trains midwives in government hospitals in evidence-based emergency obstetrics and newborn care, and trains volunteer nurses as peer educators who will provide ongoing education for the maternity nurses.

One Family Health, a primary healthcare chain in Rwanda, delivers quality, affordable primary care through a franchise clinic model, each led by nurse entrepreneurs. The clinics are led by nurses who receive financial support, business training and technical assistance to help improve their impact in the community. Pfizer’s support has helped One Family Health to add five new clinics in 2016 and reach an additional 191,000 patients. Additionally, the company has supported critical improvements to the business and finance training curriculum that the nurse entrepreneurs receive.

treat the disease, in partnership with the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI), as well as the implementation of the WHO-recommended SAFE strategy (Surgery to treat the blinding stage of the disease, known as trichiasis, Antibiotics to clear infection, Facial cleanliness, Environmental improvement), played pivotal roles in accelerating Morocco’s ability to reach this milestone. 

Nearly a decade ago, Pfizer made the decision to support the ITI in its bold goal to eliminate trachoma. Founded in 1998 with a grant from Pfizer and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, the ITI, part of the Task Force for Global Health, an independent not-for-profit, aims to meet the WHO’s call to eliminate trachoma globally by 2020. 

“It’s an integrated approach,” says Paul Emerson, PhD, Program Director of the International Trachoma Initiative. “We’re always looking across all the countries for examples of innovation and entrepreneurship, where hygiene promotion, production of soap, sanitation, school-based programs, and so on, are being used in different and innovative ways in order to reach more people.” 

Key to expediting progress is collaboration. Alongside a variety of partners representing governments, global health agencies, academia and advocacy organizations, Pfizer is taking a holistic approach – not only providing financial resources and medicine donation, but also making the best use of all of the company’s resources to help build healthcare capacity, offer community support, and create a strong and stable healthcare foundation for communities in need. 

Since the partnership was formed, this initiative has treated more than 100 million people in 36 countries. The watershed milestone of elimination of trachoma in Morocco is a true demonstration of how social entrepreneurship and partnership can work together to speed improvement of the health of individuals worldwide. This holistic approach can serve as a blueprint for the elimination of other deadly diseases in the future. 

Responding to a Global Need Through Expansion of a Humanitarian Assistance Program 
Pfizer colleagues around the world work collaboratively with governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil service organizations, healthcare providers and payers to enable prevention and treatment of diseases by making medicines and vaccines available to as many people as possible. The company uses its resources to create and offer tiered pricing strategies and humanitarian assistance in low-and middle-income countries with great need. 

This year, Pfizer expanded its humanitarian assistance program to enable broader access to a vaccine used to protect infants, young children and adults against a disease caused by a certain type of bacteria. In humanitarian emergency settings, the company is offering its new multi-dose vial of this vaccine at what will be the lowest prevailing global price. Further, given the acute need for aid on the ground, Pfizer will donate all sales proceeds for the first year of this program to humanitarian groups undertaking the difficult work of reaching vulnerable populations in emergency settings. 

“Pfizer is proud of the significant impact that our vaccine and our partnerships with many humanitarian organizations have had on public health across the globe,” says Susan Silbermann, President and General Manager, Pfizer Vaccines. “Only by putting the needs of refugees at the center can we all work collaboratively to help prevent disease in some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.” 

Additionally, Pfizer donates a variety of products to assist with humanitarian emergencies, including essential health and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. For example, in response to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, the company donated antibiotics and sterile injectable medicines to various NGOs providing near-immediate healthcare to affected populations. 

Through its work with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Pfizer has pledged to supply 740 million doses of critical vaccines through 2025 to infants at an affordable price in the world’s poorest countries with a significant burden of disease. These types of partnerships help Pfizer speed access to lifesaving medicines and critical vaccines to communities most in need. 

To learn more about how Pfizer is working to create sustainable infrastructure to improve global health, visit the website at:

* The Pfizer Foundation is a charitable organization established by Pfizer Inc. It is a separate legal entity from Pfizer Inc. with distinct legal restrictions. 

At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacture of healthcare products. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as one of the world’s premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we collaborate with healthcare providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable healthcare.

COMMENT: By Guendalina Dondé, Senior Researcher, Institute of Business Ethics
The pharmaceutical company Pfizer has put in place initiatives that define a holistic approach to healthcare, in contrast to traditional philanthropic approaches based on charitable donations. The company defines its business and societal missions as the same: to ensure that all individuals everywhere have access to quality medicines, vaccines and healthcare. Pfizer now aims to build on its current footprint of programs with new solutions that reflect the unique needs of each community.

Of particular note is that nearly all of the company’s initiatives begin as pilot programs; evaluation of their effectiveness and consideration of local nuances determine how programs are expanded to serve a broader population. Another key factor is collaboration. Pfizer works with a variety of partners representing governments,  global  health  agencies,  academia  and  advocacy  organizations to create sustainable healthcare capacity for communities in need. As Pfizer provides healthcare solutions to improve the quality of life of people all over  the world, the opportunities to have a major impact through carefully designed initiatives  are significant.

Points of note:

  • The integration of the company’s business and societal missions has resulted in strategies dedicated to targeted initiatives.
  • Donations can make major progress when framed within a structured initiative aimed at tackling specific diseases and health problems.
  • The company uses analytics and research to collect outcomes data before launching at scale.
  • Collaboration with governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil service organizations, healthcare providers and payers ensures effective impact. 

Tweet me: Pfizer's global #health initiatives reflect the unique needs of each community they serve via @EthicalP #CSR

KEYWORDS: Health & Healthcare, Chronic Illness, Best Practice, Pfizer, Ethical performance

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