Strengthening healthcare systems
In many parts of the world today, citizens and governments are facing a difficult problem: How to deliver better quality healthcare, to more people who are living longer, all in a time of economic uncertainty. Medicines can help, but only if people can get them. Limited availability of trained health professionals represents a significant barrier to healthcare access.
So Novartis works to strengthen healthcare systems by combining its scientific expertise with on-the-ground experience.
In the developing world, this means training health workers, helping prevent medicine stockouts and offering health education to families. In developed countries, this can include studying treatment protocols in different countries to share best practices.
Training health professionals
Working closely with managers from African national malaria control programs, the Novartis Malaria Initiative has developed malaria case management training for nurses, educational materials for healthcare workers to improve diagnosis and other training programs.
The Novartis Foundation supports the Tanzanian Training Centre for International Health (TTCIH) to train healthcare personnel. The center is one of the best in East Africa, both in terms of quality of training and financial sustainability.
To support and scale up training of health personnel working with children, the Novartis Foundation and the World Health Organization (WHO), developed an e-learning tool for Integrated Management of Childhood Illness, a WHO/UNICEF strategy focused on reducing infant and childhood mortality.
Alcon, our eye care division, supports the advancement of surgical techniques for cataract surgery in many developing countries through educational programs to train surgeons on phacoemulsification techniques for cataract surgery, and related small incision procedures to minimize the recovery time for patients, increase the quality of visual outcomes, and simplify the patient experience.
Encouraging scientific research
The task of building capabilities and expanding capacity for scientific and clinical research around the world requires a multi-faceted approach. Developing world nations need improved infrastructure to advance research, including essential laboratory spaces and equipment, as well as non-physical infrastructure such as databases.
None of this is possible without a strong program of education to provide physicians and healthcare workers with the knowledge and organization skills needed to conduct clinical studies. Novartis encourages the expansion of scientific research in the developing world through several science and clinical capability-building programs:
- In-depth workshops by Novartis researchers across Africa
- Student fellowships in South Africa
- Three-month research fellowships for African students and faculty at Novartis research sites in the United States and Switzerland
- Collaboration with the Ministry of Health in Malaysia build clinical research capabilities and bring clinical trials to the country
Even as scientists at Novartis work to discover and develop new treatments, we’re also focusing on training and how to get existing medicines to the right patients. Novartis is sponsoring 30 healthcare scientists from around Africa in a master’s degree program in clinical epidemiology at the University of Stellenbosch in Cape Town, South Africa. One of the program’s main goals is to train scientists to assess the prevalence of major communicable diseases in local communities in Africa.
“These students are not bound by any ties to Novartis,” says Patrice Matchaba, M.D., Global Head of Development Operations for Novartis Pharmaceuticals. “We believe most of the participants will return home, find positions with their national Ministry of Health and begin work to provide epidemiological data that are urgently needed.”