Posts Tagged ‘health’
Social Research Digest – February 2013
This report aims to uncover how business interacts with key social and environmental issues. The report highlights what is succeeding in the health sector and shares case studies of business solutions for wellness and prevention, systems innovation, disease management, and market mechanisms.
- Based on illustrative case studies it can be concluded that business generates excellent ideas and solutions for health and wellness challenges
- Businesses are motivated to innovate and create products and service to meeting the challenging climate of health and wellness.
- The impact of business on health and wellness innovation is diverse and robust.
- The health sector is embedded with business solutions that have achieved:
- better disease management;
- reliable organ transplants;
- precision in surgery;
- innovations in prosthetics and other medical equipment;
- more knowledge and insight into good fitness and nutrition habits.
- There are various illustrative case studies that spotlight business solutions for wellness and prevention, systems innovation, disease management, and market mechanism. Case studies include:
- A prevention program at Accenture that combines work-life balance, wellness solutions, and health benefits into one portfolio to provide employees a comprehensive menu of health programs.
- GlaxoSmithKline designing a medicine adherence program to develop an in depth understanding of patient needs.
- Medtronic’s commitment to increasing patient access to appropriate healthcare, which in effect increase availability of its life-enhancing therapies globally to patients who could benefit.
- Based on the aforementioned case studies and others, business develops excellent ideas and solutions to health and wellness challenges.
U.S Chamber of Commerce Foundation/ Business Civic Leadership Center
Social Research Digest – September 2012
The European Commission has recently issued a new publication outlining a series of best projects funded under the second Health Programme. The report provides an overview of 20 successful projects funded by the EU health programmes, programmes developed to support EU member states in their efforts to improve health and lifestyles throughout Europe.
- Since 2008, the Health Programme has financed projects worth close to 237 million EUR and aims to contribute to support the Europe 2020 strategy by delivering the growth agenda for a smarter, inclusive and more sustainable Europe.
- These projects show, for example, how the Health Programme has helped to:
- raise awareness on cardiovascular disease and diabetes;
- to implement cervical cancer screening for women;
- or to develop the worldwide online source of information on rare diseases – ORPHANET.
- Amongst the series of projects outlined the ‘FOOD’ (‘Fighting Obesity through Offer and Demand’) by Edenred aimed to promote a healthy diet at work.
- The aim of the project is two-fold:
- firstly, it wants to improve the nutritional habits of employees by raising their awareness of health issues and;
- secondly, by working with restaurants it aims to improve the nutritional quality of the food on offer.
By Alicia de la Peña
In 2006, the Mexican Institute for Public Health warned that, despite persistent poverty levels, the country was facing an obesity pandemic. (National Institute of Public Health, 2010). High rates of malnutrition among the poorest people in Mexico still exist, but a change in lifestyle patterns – leading families to eat more processed foods, engage in less physical activity and consume more edible oils and sweetened beverages – has resulted in rates of obesity comparable to many developed countries. (Popkin, Adair, & Wen Ng, 2011)
It is true that each individual is responsible for what he or she eats. But children have less choice – they eat what their parents give them. And parents argue that they cannot afford to provide for a healthy diet. For example one litre of milk in Mexico costs about $1, the same as three litres of soda which tastes better and is more widely available. With a minimum wage in Mexico of less than 5 dollars a day, is it surprising that families are buying more soda than milk?
As consumers, we expect that food and beverage manufacturers apply the highest ethical – that the products we purchase are fresh and pure; that we are charged a fair price for these goods; and that they are made available to us where and when we require them. But, increasingly, we expect marketers to go beyond this – to also take on responsibility for our consumption behavior. As a result, some self-regulatory bodies, food marketers and advertising agencies have begun to take action on health issues. (Mueller, 2007)
The Mexican government has also begun proactively regulating companies that sell processed foods such as sodas, chips and cookies. The advertising and food industry has, in turn, developed several of the new standards – like the PABI Code (2007). (PABI CODE, 2007). There have also been efforts to legislate against the sale of foods and drinks of low nutritional value in schools. As a result we now have smaller versions of the products with lower calories, but still aimed at children.
Is this an adequate solution? I believe that besides the regulatory measures and changes in product size and ingredients, we have to educate consumers – to make them co-responsible of their behavior and teach them to make healthful choices. Otherwise, we will end blaming the government for our bad choices (which is not untypical in Mexico) and expecting the public health system to take care of increasing numbers of Mexicans with diabetes and heart disease.
PABI CODE. (2007). Recuperado el 17 de Feb de 2012, de Self regulation advertising code of food and beverages aimed to the children: http://www.e-consulta.com/blogs/educacion/imgs_10/codigo_pabi.pdf
National Institute of Public Health. (2010). Recuperado el 17 de Feb de 2012, de http://www.insp.mx/noticias/nutricion-y-salud/1200-crecen-sobrepeso-y-obesidad-infantil-en-mexico-11-al-ano.html
Mueller, B. (2007). Just where does corporate responsibility end and consumer responsibility begin? The case of marketing food to ids around the globe. International Journal of Advertising, 26(4), 561-564.
Popkin, B. M., Adair, L. S., & Wen Ng, S. (2011). Global nutrition transition and the pandemic of obesity in developing countries. Nutrition Reviews, 70(1), 3-21.
By Wayne Visser
Let’s take a look at one of the biggest crises the world still faces: HIV/AIDS. According to the November 2009 UNAIDS report, more than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981. The number of people living with HIV has risen from around 8 million in 1990 to 33 million today, and is still growing. Around 67% of people living with HIV are in sub-Saharan Africa and Africa has over 14 million AIDS orphans. At the end of 2008, women accounted for 50% of all adults living with HIV worldwide. In developing and transitional countries, 9.5 million people are in immediate need of life-saving AIDS drugs; of these, only 4 million (42%) are receiving the drugs.
The topic of drugs presents a good case study in responsiveness (and the lack thereof). In 2001, Oxfam launched a campaign called ‘Cut the Cost’, challenging the pharmaceutical industry to address responsible drug pricing. In the same year, the Indian pharmaceutical company Cipla cut the annual price of anti-retroviral AIDS drugs to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) to $350, as compared with the global industry standard of $1,000, and the Western market price of $10,400. Cipla also announced its intention to allow the South African government to sell eight of its generic AIDS drugs, the patents for which were held by other companies.
MSF put pressure on the five major pharmaceutical companies involved in the UNAIDS Accelerating Access Initiative to match Cipla’s benchmark. And to some extent, they responded. Merck cut the price of its HIV/AIDS treatments for developing countries, including offering Crixivan at $600 and Stocrin at $500. Pfizer offered to supply antifungal medicine at no charge to HIV/AIDS patients in 50 AIDS stricken countries. Bristol-Myers Squibb announced that it would not prevent generic-drug makers from selling low-cost versions of one of its HIV drugs (Zerit) in Africa. And Glaxo-SmithKline granted a voluntary licence to South African generics producer Aspen, allowing them to share the rights to GSK’s drugs (AZT, 3TC and Combivir) without charge.
So far so good. Apparently the drug companies are quite responsive. Why then, in 2001 (at the same time that they were doing all these good things), did 39 of the largest international pharmaceutical companies take the South African government to court over plans to introduce legislation aimed at easing access to AIDS drugs, arguing that it would infringe their patents and contravene the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement? Justin Forsyth, Oxfam Policy Director, said at the time, ‘This court case demonstrates how powerful drug companies are bullying poor countries just so they can protect their patent rights on lifesaving medicines.’
The pharmaceutical companies quickly realized that they had created a monster. Tens of thousands of people marched in protest all over the world, and 300,000 people from over 130 countries signed a petition against the action. Eventually, following public pressure, as well as pressure from the South African government and the European Parliament, Big Pharma dropped the case. Fanning the flames of public discontent, John le Carr_e’s 2001 book The Constant Gardener and the 2005 film adaptation depicted drug companies as corrupt profiteers. And so began the industry’s PR damage control campaign. ‘This is not about profits and patents’, said John L. McGoldrick, Executive Vice President at Bristol-Myers Squibb, ‘We seek no profits on AIDS drugs in Africa, and we will not let our patents be an obstacle.’
Part 2 to follow soon …
About the blogger
Dr Wayne Visser is the Founder & Director of CSR International and the author of 9 books on CSR, the most recent of which is The Age of Responsibility: CSR 2.0 and the New DNA of Business. He researches, writes, trains and teaches corporate sustainability & responsibility around the world, including at Cambridge University, Magna Carta College, Oxford and La Trobe Graduate Business School, Melbourne.
Read more in Part 2
Copyright 2011 Wayne Visser
By Scott Walker
I’ve been meaning to write up a few scribbled lines from the interesting lunch session I attended last week entitled ‘health as a human right’ at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. The event focused on how the international community has begun to consider the ‘highest attainable standard of health’ as a fundamental component of the human rights agenda. The discussion touched on a range of ethical issues from the corporate responsibility of pharmaceuticals companies to more concrete matters of policy and law. Indeed, it seems logical to make a short posting on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has deservedly got a fair bit of attention today (even if it’s late in NYC!)
The Carnegie Council regularly offers great events and generally invite excellent guests to speak. This time was no exception with a panel featuring Christian Barry (Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics), Meg Boulware (Baker & McKenzie), Laura Herman (FSG Social Impact Advisors), Maggie Kohn (Merck), Rohit Malpani (Oxfam America), Lisa Oldring (Special Advisor to Mary Robinson). There were some interesting comments and I have very briefly touched upon one useful suggestion made in the text below. Fortunately, the Carnegie Council does a good job of videoing their events – the full discussion can be seen by clicking here.
Pharmaceuticals companies have come under plenty of scrutiny for their CSR policies and the access to medicine debate has been around for a long time in policy circles (now we even have an index, which came out earlier this year). Responsibilities in this area are grey, as acknowledged at this event by the top CSR Officer at Merck, which is considered a leader in the field. In terms of medicines, their policies are predicated on the principles of availability, quality, access, and affordability. It’s the last two aspects that have been a huge bone of contention. On access they have made great strides (such as their policy on patents in Least Developed Counties) but the issue of price continues to be a hot issue, as eloquently highlighted by the Oxfam representative.
One particularly interesting recommendation from the session actually came from Merck. Essentially, the proposition was for stakeholders (donor organizations, governments, pharmaceuticals) to come together to work on a list of principles in terms of a right to health, perhaps working with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to develop a series of indicator in this area for all organizations to work upon. While the GRI guidelines have their critics, I think the process of collaborative action itself is incredibly valuable and a way needs to be found for such work to be taken forward by industry leaders. While much greater consideration from all sides is still required, such an opportunity is too important not to take.