Novartis helps South Africans gain access to essential medicines
Author: NovartisDate: 29 August 2008

Access to health care is a major health and development issue  -   The Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development contributes to improving access to medicines in developing countries -  Corporate citizenship creates value for communities, through responsible business

 Press release - Johannesburg, South Africa, August 21, 2008 – Access to health care is a major health and development issue.1 Most governments declare that their citizens should enjoy universal and equitable access to good quality care. Big disparities, however, exist between the poor and the affluent with respect to access to health care services and overall health status.1 Barriers to accessing healthcare are many and may relate to socioeconomic factors, inadequate financial and human resources, poor infrastructure and lack of co-ordination between public and private interventions.[ii] 

The Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development (NFSD) recognises the problem of limited access to medicines in developing countries and contributes through its projects and programmes, to improvements in the health of the poor in these countries.[iii] “We believe that the ability of Novartis to contribute to improvements in healthcare emanates from our normal business activities – discovering, developing and increasing access to innovative products that cure disease, ease suffering and enhance quality of life,” says Noel Guliwe, CEO and Country President of Novartis South Africa (Pty) Ltd.Novartis has established a number of health-related programmes aimed at improving access to medicines in South Africa and other developing countries.

Global Novartis projects from which South Africa benefits, include: GIPAP, one of the most comprehensive and far-reaching patient assistance programmes ever implemented on a global scale, provides cancer treatment to patients with chronic myeloid leukemia. Other examples collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Department of Health include, the provision of free TB drugs by Sandoz, a Novartis company; the donation of multi-drug therapy for the treatment of all leprosy patients and the provision of medication for the treatment of malaria at reduced cost by the Pharma division of Novartis.[iv] 

On World Malaria Day (25 April, 2008), in alignment with the company’s  commitment to improve access to health care in developing countries, Novartis announced an average 20% price reduction for malaria treatment.[v]  This lowered price applies to the public sector in malaria-endemic developing countries like South Africa, and increases access to a life-saving treatment for millions of malaria patients, especially children, in low-income regions of Africa.  To improve equitable access, innovative and community-based approaches are needed to better align healthcare services with poor people’s needs, expectations and resources.1 ‘Professor KLAUS M.

LEISINGER, President and Executive Director of the NFSD in Switzerland, visits South Africa to deliver a talk on “Corporate Responsibility in Times of Globalisation” and showcase the successes of the Foundation in South Africa and other developing countries.”

The vision of the Foundation is to promote a social environment where human rights are guaranteed, basic needs are satisfied and there is maximum possible equality of opportunity and social justice for all. The Foundation improves quality of life in developing countries through health projects that enable access to medicines and aid the fight against poverty and disease. “It cannot be overemphasised that improving people’s access to healthcare requires collaboration and an understanding of the broader societal problems that impede access”, states Noel Guliwe. Corporate citizenship at Novartis is an integral part of how we do business. We do everything we can to operate in a manner that is sustainable economically, socially and environmentally in the best interest of long-term success for our enterprise”, concludes Noel Guliwe.

 About Novartis South Africa (Pty) Ltd - Novartis provides healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Our core businesses are in pharmaceuticals, consumer health and generics. Our consumer health business  includes over the counter products, animal health care and eye care. products  Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet the dynamic needs of our customers: innovative medicines, consumer health products that empower consumers to choose healthy lifestyles, and cost-saving generics through Sandoz. With its headquarters in Basel, Novartis operates in 140 countries. The South African office is located in Spartan, Kempton Park, Gauteng.

For more information, please visit www.novartis.co.za (or www.novartis.com) or call the Novartis Call Centre on 0861 929 929.  


[i] Orbist B, Iteba N, Lengeler C, et al. PLoS Medicine, “Access to health Care in Contexts of Livelihood Insecurity: A Framework for Analysis & Action” Oct. 2007, Vol.4, Issue 10, e308: 1-5.   
[ii] 2006 Civil Society Report on Intellectual property, Innovation & Health, Improving access to medicines, Chapter 3: 28 – 46. 
[iii] Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development, “Annual Report: For a world free of Leprosy” 2007; 3.   

[iv] Novartis Corporate Citizenship Review Brochure


[v] Novartis Data on File