Access to Health
Access to health is a human right. Novo Nordisk's access to health programme is based on United Nation's approach to right to health, and covers the areas availability, accessibility, affordability and quality of medicines and care. Novo Nordisk subscribes to this definition and takes a rights-based approach in its programmes to contribute to improved access to health.
Inadequate access to health is closely related to poverty and is a major barrier for social development and equitable economic growth. And the issue is global: In low-and middle-income economies the governments lack the resources to provide the healthcare that their populations need, and in high-income economies aging populations combined with increased costs are putting public healthcare budgets under pressure. As a consequence underprivileged groups in all parts of the world are often left without proper access to the care they need.
While offering care does carry a cost, inaction is more costly: For example, the burden of chronic disease has major economic effects on families, communities and societies, on top of the human suffering and loss of quality of life.
Novo Nordisk leverages its history of building healthcare partnerships to create long-term solutions that have impacts far beyond the company’s own efforts. The company's approach to improved access aligns with the UN Global Compact principles in respect of human rights and the UN Millennium Development goals.
A range of other initiatives have inspired and health inform the company’s strategy, including the investor-led PharmaFutures project emphasising the importance of emerging growth markets, the International Diabetes Federation’s commitment to children through the Youth Charter, and the World Health Organisation’s focus on more affordable pricing, greater transparency and health systems capacity.
Novo Nordisk’s access to health initiatives focus on haemophilia and diabetes, as these are the key therapeutic areas in the company’s portfolio.
Efforts focus both on the micro level, addressing individuals, and on the macro level, addressing systems and structures. Novo Nordisk’s approach includes partnerships between the private sector, governments, NGOs, and international aid and development agencies.
Novo Nordisk has worked in partnership to address barriers to care in 10 developing countries since 2001, tailoring its approach to local situations. The most important obstacles include lack of awareness about diabetes, lack of knowledge among healthcare providers in diagnosing and treating the condition, too few hospitals and clinics equipped to treat diabetes, and a lack of national healthcare strategies to tackle the epidemic.
Seeking to overcome these barriers, the company puts efforts into building sustainable solutions that provide immediate relief, and at the same time build long-term capacity. Success criteria are government commitment, local partnerships and champions and enhancing existing infrastructures.
In an effort to highlight the urgent need for improved access, the Dutch-based Access to Medicine Foundation offered a first-of-its-kind benchmark of pharmaceutical companies' performance. Novo Nordisk ranked number two and was particularly commended for the ability to design coherent programmes and activities, for measuring the outcomes of these and to report externally on their impact.
Improved access to diabetes care
In the next twenty years, according to the International Diabetes Federation, diabetes worldwide is expected to go from currently about 246 million to 380 million in 2025. Approximately 80% of this significant growth in diabetes is expected to occur in the developing world. Click here to see the global distribution of people with diabetes.
Novo Nordisk's comprehensive programmes in the field of diabetes care target disadvantaged communities and the most vulnerable populations with the least access to care.
The company takes a global, sustainable, and inclusive approach, targeting the five most vulnerable groups with the poorest access to diabetes care:
- Children and adolescents
- People living in the least developed countries (LDCs)
- People living at the ‘base of the pyramid’ in emerging economies
- Migrant populations in the developed world
For each population group, Novo Nordisk has targeted actions and programmes aimed at addressing the specific needs of this group.
While affordability of care is a significant barrier, there are other obstacles that are just as critical. These include lack of awareness about diabetes, lack of knowledge among healthcare providers in diagnosing and treating the condition, too few hospitals and clinics equipped to treat diabetes, and a lack of national healthcare strategies to tackle the epidemic. Seeking to overcome these barriers, the company puts efforts into building sustainable solutions that provide immediate relief while also building long-term capacity.
In developed countries Novo Nordisk works with partners to provide evidence of the costs of diabetes, to inform policy decisions, and to improve treatment outcomes for people with diabetes by focusing on the person, and not just the disease.
Building on core capabilities, and working through partnerships with stakeholders, the actions aim to create interventions and solutions that can be scaled up.
Novo Nordisk’s global health strategy – diabetes care
Access to health within haemophilia care
Novo Nordisk recognises that there is a significant need to improve haemophilia treatment and infrastructure in developing countries. In 2005, the company therefore set up the Novo Nordisk Haemophilia Foundation (NNHF) as a commitment to the company’s social responsibility for haemophilia care.
Health Policy Committee
The work in the field of Access to Health is governed by the Health Policy Committee, chaired by Kåre Schultz, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.