French pharmaceutical company is contributing to the reduction of infant and maternal mortality, increasing access to vaccines and health education, and reducing healthcare inequalities among vulnerable populations.
The head of Cambodia operations for one of the world’s most innovative and socially responsible pharmaceutical companies sums up its approach to global health in a single sentence.
“Simply put our mission is to improve access to medicines and healthcare,” explains Dao Thu Nga at Sanofi’s office on Kra MounSar Blvd in central Phnom Penh.
“We want to make a difference in people’s lives,” she adds, explaining that this can be accomplished by “transforming innovation into therapeutic solutions for patients.”
These are not mere platitudes. Sanofi’s community health initiatives save lives, especially of those who would otherwise lack access to healthcare. For example, 13,000 pregnant women in remote communes of Kampong Speu province benefitted from the service of 200 trained midwifes.
They not only ensured safe deliveries but also raised awareness about pre and postnatal care. This initiative was critical in an area where the maternal mortality rate was 206 for every 100,000 births, and less than half of all deliveries were carried out by trained midwives or doctors. Importantly, the project built upon government-run health centres, increasing their capacity to serve pregnant women over a three-year period to ensure their efforts would be sustainable in the long run. In Phnom Penh, another 80,000 poor and vulnerable people received education on maternal and child health, while 8,000 received micro-insurance to help cover healthcare costs.
Sanofi’s initiatives in Cambodia focus on increasing access to healthcare, decreasing maternal and neonatal mortality, improving communities’ awareness of diseases like rabies, dengue and diabetes, warning of the danger of counterfeit medicines, and highlighting steps that can be taken to reduce the effects of climate change.
These CSR activities are funded by the Sanofi Epsor Foundation, which was launched by the Sanofi Group in October 2010, and implemented in with partner organizations in Cambodia, including NGOs, associations and the University of Health Sciences. Ms. Nga explains the foundation’s approach as “long-term.”
“We naturally respond to humanitarian emergencies, but the focus is primarily on long-term partnerships to address persistent issues, including lack of education, preventing disease and maladies, training a new generation of healthcare providers and ensuring access to care.”
Globally, the foundation aims to reduce healthcare inequalities and poverty among the world’s poorest populations. By doing so this fortifies international solidarity and demonstrates Sanofi’s commitment to the communities it serves, Ms. Nga notes. It has three key targets: fighting childhood cancers in low-income countries; reducing maternal and newborn mortality; and, delivering access to care for the most vulnerable social groups.
Moreover, the projects the foundation invests in must meet several criteria, including “convergence, innovation and social utility, local ownership, inclusive partnerships, and sustainability.”
CSR IS AN INVESTMENT
Ms. Nga stresses that it is important not to view CSR as charity. Rather, it is an investment that benefits communities as well as the company – if it implemented effectively. “We have been conducting CSR activities since 2012 and we view these as investments because we know the value and the importance of CSR in contributing to society. Indeed, through CSR projects, we believe that we are able to improve healthcare access for the most vulnerable populations in Cambodia in order to reduce healthcare inequalities and ensure long-term, sustainable business growth,” she explains. Greater access to healthcare is, of course, beneficial to a company that provides life-saving vaccines and medicines.
CSR activities also increase staff morale. “Through our projects we can also engage and motivate our staff,” Ms. Nga explains, noting that staff are encouraged to participate in the company’s CSR activities.
START WITH STAFF
Sanofi’s office has an inviting, warm and lively atmosphere – the staff appear to enjoy working there. The office was designed to create a space where staff feel motivated and creative, but the company also demonstrates that is values them in many ways. For example, all staff receive health insurance as well as annual check-ups free of charge. The company also pays fees for those who join fitness centers and provides flu vaccines to all staff and their children.
“We want our staff to feel secure,” Ms. Nga stresses. This extends to opportunities as well. As a global company present in about 100 countries, the Cambodians who work for Sanofi have many opportunities to receive training oversees. Such international exposure broadens the perspective of employees, Ms. Nga explains. “We provide many fantastic opportunities for our employees to grow and develop themselves through our employee development plan,” she adds, noting that this is part of every office globally. “Enhancing the capacity of staff is simply good business,” she says.
The company’s CSR activities also boost employee morale. Ms. Nga notes that about 70 percent of her staff have graduated from medical school.
“They went to medical school with the aim of improving people’s lives, so they feel inspired to work with a company that acts on this goal. Our staff are our CSR leaders, and I think this proves the value of our community activities.”
Sanofi’s CSR Activities
• Highlighting Fighting Against Counterfeit Medicines Day with the University of Science and Health
• Highlighting World Rabies Day in collaboration with Institute Pasteur of Cambodia
• Highlighting World Diabetes Day with the Cambodia Diabetes Association
• Highlightng Dengue Day with the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria
• Providing educational training programs and vaccine supplies to Krousar Thmey
• Providing financial support with local coordination and technical recommendations to projects
• Supporting Midwives for Life (with the NGO Enfants & Development)
• Actively participating in and sponsoring Europe Week – Cycling for the climate
tour to promote climate friendly transport.