Enabling Access to Health

For more than a century, our company has been inventing medicines and vaccines for the world’s most challenging diseases.

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As we continue to invent new approaches that save and improve lives, we have a responsibility to help enable access to medicines, vaccines and quality health care worldwide. This responsibility underpins our commitment to advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our health program investments focus on SDG 3—ensuring health and well-being for all—as well as SDG 17, which encourages strong global partnerships and cooperation.

We are committed to discovering smart, sustainable ways to enable access to health, especially in parts of the world where there are limited health care resources. Given the scale of this challenge, we believe we can make the strongest contribution by working in partnership with others—governments, donors, patient groups, health care professionals, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, multilateral organizations and the private sector—to strengthen health systems and improve the delivery of health care.

The programs we support work to promote health equity, strengthening the quality of health care for people in underserved communities who are living with Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes and HIV/AIDS—areas of global health need and relevance to our company. These innovative, evidence-based programs aim to reduce disparities in access and health outcomes.

Key Foundation programs

Alliance to Advance Patient-Centered Cancer Care
With a $15 million, five-year (2017–2021) commitment from our company’s Foundation, the Alliance aims to increase timely access to patient-centered care and reduce disparities in cancer care, especially for vulnerable and underserved populations in the United States.

Alzheimer’s Association, Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter
With a $1.5 million four-year (2018–2021) grant, our company’s Foundation is supporting the Alzheimer’s Association, Massachusetts/New Hampshire chapter to expand its Dementia Care Coordination program in Massachusetts, and take it to Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

American Cancer Society—Care Coordination Navigation
With a four-year (2015–2018), $1.58 million grant from our company’s Foundation, the American Cancer Society (ACS) enhanced its Patient Navigator Program (PNP) in the United States to improve care coordination, promote patient activation and increase access to high-quality cancer care in communities where there are substantial health care disparities. The ACS worked with six PNP sites as part of its community-based pilot program—Care Coordination Navigation Program.

This program provides training in participating communities for ACS patient navigators on concepts of care coordination and patient activation, as well as effective patient-provider communication about such topics as treatment planning, palliative care and survivorship, among others. The training also equips navigators with effective communication strategies and problem-solving and coaching skills to help support and coach patients in managing psychosocial issues and treatment side effects, building social support networks and engaging in healthy behaviors throughout the cancer care continuum.

According to the American Cancer Society, the pilot Care Coordination Navigation Program has reached thousands of patients and demonstrated that ACS navigators can effectively work with patients and families to help them overcome challenges that may affect their care.

As reported by the ACS, to date, the program has reached more than 1,200 eligible cancer patients across six sites in California, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington State.

Preliminary evaluation findings from the ACS suggest that:

  • Most patients reported overcoming or managing barriers (e.g., financial issues, transportation, lodging, treatment side effects) to cancer care with their navigator
  • Patients were highly satisfied with their navigation experiences and navigator as well as felt more empowered to solve problems and take action related to their cancer care
  • Patients experienced improved levels of treatment adherence and completion

Final results from the pilot program evaluation are expected in late 2019.

American Cancer Society: Global Patient Navigation
Our company’s Foundation is supporting the American Cancer Society (ACS) to improve patient support and access to cancer care in sub-Saharan Africa and develop guidance to help low- and middle-income countries adopt similar models of care. Through a ~$2 million grant over five years (2019–2023), the Foundation is helping ACS bring its expertise and experience in patient navigation to new countries with a growing burden of cancer.

Bridging the Gap: Reducing Disparities in Diabetes Care
With a $16 million, five-year (2017–2021) commitment from our company’s Foundation, Bridging the Gap aims to improve access to high-quality diabetes care and reduce health disparities among vulnerable and underserved populations with type 2 diabetes in the United States.

PHoto of a woman laughing with her family

 

HealthPartners Center for Memory and Aging
Through a $1.5 million, four-year (2018–2021) grant, our company’s Foundation is supporting HealthPartners Center for Memory and Aging and its partner, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) to implement UCSF’s Care Ecosystem program for people with dementia and their caregivers in rural areas of Minnesota with limited access to specialty care.

HIV Care Connect
With a $7 million, five-year (2019–2023) commitment from our company’s Foundation, HIV Care Connect aims to reduce disparities in access to care and improve health outcomes for people with HIV living in vulnerable Southeastern U.S. communities.

Marshall Health—Great Rivers Regional System for Addiction Care in West Virginia
Our company’s Foundation is supporting an initiative with Marshall Health through a $2 million grant over four years (2018–2021) to establish the Great Rivers Regional System for Addiction Care—a comprehensive program to address the opioid crisis in West Virginia.

North Carolina A&T State University Center for Outreach in Alzheimer’s, Aging and Community Health
Through a $2 million, four-year (2016–2019) grant, our company’s Foundation is supporting the North Carolina A&T State University Center for Outreach in Alzheimer’s, Aging and Community Health (COAACH) to implement programs that better support Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers and broaden Alzheimer’s awareness among underserved populations in rural North Carolina.

Project ECHO® in India and Vietnam
Our company’s Foundation committed $7 million over five years (2017–2021) to support the ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) Institute™ at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. This funding supports the replication of Project ECHO® in India and Vietnam to improve access to specialty care for complex and chronic conditions such as hepatitis C, HIV, tuberculosis and noncommunicable diseases, including cancer and diabetes, as well as mental health conditions.

University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Public Health—Diabetes Peer Support Program in Shanghai, China
Our company’s Foundation provided a $781,000 three-year (2016–2018) grant to the UNC School of Public Health to support the development, implementation and evaluation of a diabetes peer support program, based on the Peers for Progress model, in nine Community Health Centers (CHCs) in Shanghai, China. Using a practical and flexible peer support model, peer leaders work in a variety of areas, such as: helping professional staff lead monthly meetings for patients and their families; helping individuals with diabetes address challenges in their daily self-management; promoting diabetes awareness initiatives in the community; leading tai chi or other exercise groups; and offering support and day-to-day interaction with patients.

To date, the peer support program has trained more than 100 peer leaders and reached more than 1,280 adults with diabetes. Initial evaluation results showed that this model was effective in improving diabetes self-management, treatment adherence and quality of life among people living with diabetes. Program participants showed improvements in blood glucose levels, body mass index and diabetes-specific distress.

“I used to not discuss my diabetes with anyone other than my doctor. Since joining the peer support program, I got to know a lot of friends and we openly share our experiences managing diabetes. Through the care and help from my doctor and peer leader, I have gained more confidence in controlling my blood sugar and living better with diabetes.”

– Female, age 57, Shanghai

The peer support program is part of the Shanghai Integration Model, which links hospital and specialty care with primary care through Community Health Centers. The positive results of the diabetes peer support program will contribute to program replication in a greater number of Shanghai’s 240 CHCs. The Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission, in collaboration with the Shanghai Sixth People’s Hospital and other partners, will develop a platform that enables local health entities to implement peer support models in 12 additional communities in 2019, followed by dissemination across the city.

The UNC School of Public Health and its partners are conducting a robust program evaluation. Results are anticipated in 2020.

YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program
With a three-year (2016–2018), $2 million grant from our company’s Foundation, the YMCA expanded its Diabetes Prevention Program across five U.S. states: Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is an evidence-based chronic-disease prevention model that improves the health of participants with prediabetes by helping them achieve modest weight loss through healthy eating and physical activity. It is also part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program, led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To date, 72 local YMCAs in these states have served more than 2,500 participants in their Diabetes Prevention Program. At the end of the first 16 program sessions, participants achieved an average 4.6 percent weight loss. The YMCA has also expanded payer and employer coverage of the program to help ensure sustainability.