Among the key initiatives are the transformation of an antiseptic used in mouthwash into a life-saving product for new-borns and the roll-out of a powder-form of an antibiotic in child friendly doses to help fight pneumonia - one of the main killers of children under five.
For the first time, Save the Children will be involved in helping GSK to research and develop medicines for children, with a seat on a new paediatric R&D board to accelerate progress on innovative life-saving interventions for under- fives, and to identify ways to ensure the widest possible access in the developing world. GSK will be able to leverage Save the Children’s child health expertise and on-the- ground experience to reach children in the most remote and marginalised communities with basic healthcare.
The GSK-Save the Children partnership will also focus on widening vaccine coverage to the poorest children, increasing investment in health workers, as well as developing a low-cost nutritional product to help combat child malnutrition.
Flagship programmes will run initially in Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya. These will be closely monitored and the evidence on how to save children’s lives at scale will be used to replicate programmes in other countries within Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America.
While good progress has been made in recent years, almost seven million children died in 2011 through lack of access to basic healthcare, vaccines or nutritious food. Through these and other initiatives, the partnership aims to help save the lives of one million children in the next five years.
Justin Forsyth, the Chief Executive of Save the Children said, "This ground breaking partnership involves both organisations working in genuinely new ways to save the lives of a million children. In the past Save the Children may not have embarked on a collaboration with a pharmaceutical company like GSK. But we believe we can make huge gains for children if we harness the power of GSK's innovation, research and global reach."
Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK said: “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. 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."
Key features of the partnership are:
- Reformulating the antiseptic chlorhexidine - found in GSK's Corsodyl mouth-wash - for cleansing the umbilical cord stump of new-borns to prevent serious infection, a major cause of newborn death in poor countries. Studies from South Asia suggest this simple intervention could prevent up to 1 in 6 new-born deaths in low resource settings.
- Seeking the accelerated registration and roll-out of a child-friendly antibiotic, used to treat pneumonia - which currently kills 1.4 million under-fives, in countries with a high-incidence of the illness. This will be developed in dose packs suitable for small babies and young infants. GSK will also work with Save the Children to explore the reformulation of an alternative child-friendly version in places where access to water and milk is not easy.
- Seeking to widen vaccination coverage to the hardest to reach communities: for example, through greater use of mobile technology solutions, sending SMS messages to remind parents to take up vaccination services and providing health workers and health facilities with smartphones to allow them to record and schedule vaccinations.
- Researching a new affordable nutrition product combatting the scourge of malnutrition - the underlying cause of one in three deaths in under-fives. A joint GSK-Save the Children project team in Kenya is investigating the development of a low-cost nutritional product for the poorest families.
- Investing in healthcare workers in the poorest communities, building on an existing GSK-Save the Children collaboration to help address the estimated shortfall of at least 3.5 million trained healthcare workers, who can deliver vaccines and essential medicines to babies and young children, provide health advice and treat malnutrition.
- Building flagship country programmes initially in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Kenya to include these interventions, which will be closely monitored and evaluated to determine how the partnership is saving lives before scale-up and replication of the programmes in other developing countries.
- Developing a blueprint for how businesses can deliver better social outcomes by engaging with health and development issues and pursuing joint advocacy efforts to ensure a focus on children's health and wellbeing are maintained in global health policy discussions.
- Inspiring and engaging GSK's global workforce to help raise awareness through volunteering and fundraising, with the ambition to encourage employees to raise £1 million a year, which will be matched by GSK.Through this and other charitable donations to Save the Children, GSK has committed to donate at least £15 million over the course of the partnership. Additional contributions will be made through specific research and development programmes.
Save the Children and GSK have been working together for eight years on a number of public health projects, including GSK's initiative to reinvest 20% of the profits it makes in least-developed-countries in community programmes to strengthen healthcare infrastructure, primarily through the training of community health workers.
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Save the Children - Save the Children works in more than 120 countries and helps to save children's lives, fight for their rights and help them fulfil their potential.