Last December, GSK teamed up with Vodafone to help increase children vaccination in Mozambique – and now GSK have teamed up with Save The Children to develop programmes in Kenya and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The programmes, say the organisations, will tackle child mortality and establish models which can be adopted, scaled up and replicated in other developing countries.
The collaboration will focus on widening vaccination coverage, researching new low-cost products to combat malnutrition, and increasing investment in health workers. One example will be reformulating the chlorhexidine found in GSK's Corsodyl mouthwash into a gel for cleaning the umbilical cord stumps of newborn babies. The partnership is to run for five years and is worth Â£15m. Save the Children will also have a seat on a GSK research and development board for pediatric medicine, reports CBS.
The collaboration may be surprising to some, as the Guardian reports that just a decade ago Save the Children had lambasted GSK for its high prices on HIV drugs for the developing world.
“In the past, Save the Children may not have embarked on collaboration with a pharmaceutical company like GSK", said Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive of Save the Children. "But we believe we can make huge gains for children if we harness the power of GSK’s innovation, research and global reach.”
"A partnership of this scale gives us an opportunity to do something amazing – to save the lives of one million children, and to transform the lives of millions more. At GSK we are motivated by developing innovative life-saving medicines and getting them to the people that need them," said Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK. "By joining forces with Save the Children, we can amplify these efforts to create a new momentum for change and stop children dying from preventable diseases. I hope this partnership inspires GSK employees and sets a new standard for how companies and NGOs can work together towards a shared goal."
However, Rohit Malpani, director of policy and analysis at MÃ©decins Sans FrontiÃ¨res’ access to medicines campaign said there were still pressing question for GSK to answer: “Will they price their existing and pipeline HIV drugs affordably in all developing countries, or will developing countries be paying excessive prices? Will GSK grant MSF and other humanitarian organisations sustainable access to discounted prices already provided to GAVI so that we can vaccinate children against pneumoccocal disease?”
The first of the joint programmes will begin in DRC, which is experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. In the Human Development Index, it is ranked 187th out of 187 countries. Child mortality rates are among the highest in Africa, with over 400, 000 children dying before the age of five each year.
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