After 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry, and being with AstraZeneca since 2008, my role has always had a focus on ensuring patients have access to medicines, across a range of therapy areas including cardiovascular, diabetes and respiratory.
Before taking on leadership of our flagship Healthy Heart Africa (HHA) programme in 2017, I led the Global pricing and market access teams for the Cardiovascular Renal Metabolism (CVRM) portfolio, and was reimbursement expert for the acquisition of the diabetes portfolio from Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS).
HHA has been active since 2014, tackling hypertension and cardiovascular disease across East and West Africa – growing across Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana and Uganda – as well as into India. By the end of March 2020, we had conducted more than 14.5m blood pressure screenings and trained over 7,200 healthcare workers.1
I now have an expanded role as Head of Access to Healthcare, Global Sustainability, leading one of the three priority pillars of AstraZeneca’s Sustainability strategy. My goal is working towards a future where all people have access to sustainable healthcare solutions for life-changing treatment and prevention.
The key to addressing the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in emerging economies is by working with local stakeholders and in public-private partnerships to promote disease prevention, remove barriers to access and strengthen health systems in support of local communities for greatest impact. I feel privileged to be part of this inspirational work and am consistently humbled by the passion and commitment of our employees, partners and communities towards our efforts in this space. These collective efforts enabled us to reach more than 19.8m people and train more than 81,000 healthcare workers by the end of 2019 through our access to healthcare programmes.
Strengthening early diagnosis and access to treatment is critical to lessening the impact of NCDs on individuals and society and we cannot do that alone as a private company. We need to work in close partnership with stakeholders, mindful that access to healthcare and delivering Universal Healthcare is a global challenge and a basic human right, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this role, I have been proud to join platforms alongside Government Ministers, healthcare experts and representatives from organisations like the United Nations to call for joined-up action. However, nothing beats meeting our local teams and those working to support their local communities to highlight the ongoing impact and need.
1. AstraZeneca data on file. Numbers since programme launch in October 2014 up until 31st March 2020.
2. UN Global Compact Health Case Study - https://d306pr3pise04h.cloudfront.net/docs/publications%2FUNGC+Health+Case+Study_AstraZeneca_VG_final.pdf
3. UNGC Business Leadership Brief Case Study - https://d306pr3pise04h.cloudfront.net/docs/publications%2F2019_HealthReport_Web.pdf
4. Protecting Populations Preserving Futures - https://ncdalliance.org/resources/ProtectingPopulationsPreservingFutures-Report
5. Healthy Heart Africa - Kenya - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211816019300122