Novartis joins urgent relief efforts for victims of earthquake in Haiti
Within a few seconds late in the day on Tuesday January 12, an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale devastated Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. A humanitarian disaster of massive proportions looms even as aftershocks continue to strike. More than 70,000 Haitians are confirmed dead and untold numbers are injured or still missing.
Taking swift action
Novartis reached out to the Swiss Red Cross the next day to offer assistance drawing on our global healthcare resources. In the next few hours and days, the picture of the humanitarian disaster became ever clearer. Offers of help from Novartis associates all over the world came into Novartis headquarters in Basel; our people wanted to know immediately how they could best help the victims.
Saturday afternoon, the Swiss disaster relief service provided a list of the medicines most urgently needed. Over the weekend, Novartis associates worked special shifts with the aim of sending life-saving medicines to Haiti on Monday morning with the first shipment from the official Swiss relief aid mission.
Sending essential medicines internationally and locally
On Monday, January 18, 10 pallets of medicines – antibiotics and analgesics (pain relievers) – left a Novartis warehouse. Just after 11 a.m. the precious cargo, worth about one-half million US dollars, arrived at the Zurich airport and was handed over to the official Swiss relief aid mission.
At the same time, Novartis announced immediate aid worth more than USD 2.5 million for the earthquake victims in Haiti including:
- Direct financial support for relief organizations operating in Haiti
- Donations of essential medicines, including antibiotics and pain relievers
“I would like to express our deepest sympathy for all people affected and also assure them of our support,”
said Daniel Vasella, Chairman and CEO of Novartis.
The Novartis country organization in the Dominican Republic – a nation that shares a Caribbean island with Haiti – sent 3 750 units of antibiotics to the Dominican Red Cross, representing one of the many relief operations in progress by Novartis country organizations worldwide. Many of our associates around the world have answered a call for donations to internationally or nationally recognized relief organizations in order to help the earthquake victims. Novartis has committed to match their donations.
Continuing our commitment
Providing aid for the victims in Haiti continues the long-term commitment of Novartis to corporate citizenship and disaster relief. In 2008 Novartis made medicines worth more than USD 1.3 billion available to people in need around the world, either free of charge or at cost. These donations amount to about 3% of annual sales – in line with the Novartis vision of caring and curing.