NovartisToday, the Novartis Foundation, formerly named the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development, convenes its annual symposium. This year's topic - "Sustainable healthcare interventions: from blueprint to lasting impact" - brings together philanthropists, local partners and innovators to explore the journey from idea generation and pilot projects to the realization of scalable and sustainable healthcare systems that improve outcomes for patients in low- and middle-income countries.

"We are at a tipping point in global health where we see a critical lack of investment in healthcare systems in low- and middle-income countries, while at the same time the rapid expansion of connectivity and use of mobile health technologies in these same geographies allows for significant expansion of patient reach through innovation," said Ann Aerts, Head of the Novartis Foundation and moderator of the symposium. "Today we will see a glimpse of how strong partnerships and innovative service delivery models are pushing the situation in the direction of stronger, sustainable health services that enhance access to quality care."

The event kicks off with examples that illustrate the importance of measurement, policy, innovation and local partnerships to set the stage for scalable and sustainable healthcare solutions.

  • Zia Khan, Rockefeller Foundation, discusses how strategic philanthropy can drive impact and scale.
  • Hassan Mshinda, Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, reviews the inclusion of science, technology and public-private partnerships for innovation in Tanzania.
  • Krishna Udayakumar, International Partnership for Innovative Healthcare Delivery, presents improvement to quality affordable healthcare through innovation.

"While important, ideas and data alone won't solve our most difficult healthcare problems. To ensure lasting impact, we need to bundle different kinds of innovations into solutions that government, the private sector, and citizens can help scale up - then get down to the important work implementing with, and listening to, the local communities we set out to serve in the first place," said Zia Khan, Vice President for Initiatives and Strategy at the Rockefeller Foundation.

The journey continues with highlights of several Novartis Foundation-supported interventions at various stages of development, from a healthcare worker training center in Tanzania on the verge of becoming a social enterprise to a leprosy detection application still in the concept stage.

  • Senga Pemba, Director, Tanzania Training Centre for International Health (TTCIH), speaks about the positive impact of the development of local talent. This autonomous center in rural Tanzania, which supplies much needed training, services and facilities for the development of skilled health professionals in sub-Saharan Africa, has been supported by a partnership between the Novartis Foundation, the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute. Today, it is gradually offsetting the financial support of the Novartis Foundation, making progress toward becoming a social enterprise.
  • Isaac Adams, Director Research, Statistics and Information for the Ministry of Health, Ghana, discusses the factors which have allowed for the recent expansion of the telemedicine project which aims to improve healthcare access via technology in rural areas of Ghana. The project is supported by the Novartis Foundation and is being done in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ghana and the Earth Institute, Columbia University.
  • Maria Teresa Dioko, Novartis Philippines, highlights her team's involvement in several Novartis Foundation-supported projects in the Philippines, particularly an mHealth tool, rolled-out in collaboration with the Ministry of Health in the Philippines, that enables nurses to send pictures of potential leprosy lesions on their patients to specialists for diagnosis.
  • Harjatin Singh, Ishan Kothari and Arpit Sabherwal, students at the Vellore Institute of Technology and co-creators of the Leprosy Predictor, a mobile application to improve early detection of leprosy through imaging, pressure monitoring and telemedicine, present their concept to the participants. Theirs was the winning idea in a "hack-a-thon" challenge issued by the Novartis Foundation this past summer in an effort to find an innovative solution to improve leprosy detection and diagnosis in children.

The Foundation has also officially changed its name to the Novartis Foundation from Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development. This change reflects the Foundation's role as the primary foundation for Novartis, and underlines its increasing focus on supporting projects that drive quality healthcare in low- and middle-income countries, building on the Novartis mission of caring and curing.

About the Novartis Foundation
The Novartis Foundation is committed to ensuring quality healthcare in low and middle income countries. We take a strategic approach to philanthropy, meaning we work hand-in-hand and on the ground with our global and local partners on projects addressing an unmet need in a particular locale. Together with our collaborators, we include innovation and measurement in every project, with the ultimate goal that the projects will evolve into a scalable and sustainable healthcare solutions and policies that will improve health outcomes.

About Novartis
Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, eye care, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines and diagnostic tools, over-the-counter and animal health products. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2013, the Group achieved net sales of USD 57.9 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.9 billion (USD 9.6 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges). Novartis Group companies employ approximately 135,000 full-time-equivalent associates and sell products in more than 150 countries around the world.