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GSK and Save the Children Partner to Help Africa

Published: Friday, May 10, 2013
Last Updated: Friday, May 10, 2013
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Currently, nearly 7 million children under five die every year from preventable diseases.

In the last ten years, significant progress has been made globally to reduce the rate of child deaths, however more needs to be done to prevent children dying unnecessarily. While the needs of the world’s poorest children are diverse, there are three areas where urgent attention could help to ensure that every child receives essential healthcare:

•    More healthcare workers in these regions
•    Vaccines and medicines
•    Simple nutritious food

Making a change

We are embarking on an ambitious global partnership with Save the Children to share our expertise and resources and focus on these three areas in order to make a lasting change for the world’s most vulnerable children.

The new partnership goes well beyond the traditional charity corporate fundraising model. It will touch many areas of our business, in particular using our R&D capabilities to help save children’s lives.

The GSK and Save the Children partnership will focus in particular on:

•    developing child-friendly medicines to reduce child mortality and new-born deaths
•    widening vaccination coverage to reduce the number of child deaths in the hardest to reach communities
•    researching new affordable nutritional products to help alleviate malnutrition in children
•    increasing investment in the training, reach and scope of health workers in the poorest communities to help reduce child mortality

Beginning with programmes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Kenya, we plan to develop programmes to tackle child mortality and to establish models that can be adopted, expanded and replicated in other developing countries.

Our ambition is to share a blueprint for a new way of working, transforming the traditional fundraising NGO/corporate model. The scale, breadth and ambition of this global partnership far exceeds anything that GSK or Save the Children have done before.

Together, we’ll also use our influence to call for improved policy and practice, and increased international investment in children’s health.

GSK and Save the Children in DRC

The first of our joint programmes – the ‘Integrated project for the battle against childhood diseases’ - will be rolled out in the DRC. Devastated by political and social instability for decades, the DRC is experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. It is ranked 187th out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index and life expectancy is low at just 46 years old. The majority of the population lack access to basic services and half of the 66 million population live on less than $1 a day.

The health challenges in DRC, including high levels of infectious diseases, are made more difficult because of gaps in human resources at all levels of the health system – there is just one doctor and only five nurses per 10,000 people. Child mortality rates are among the highest in Africa, with over 400, 000 children dying before the age of five each year, mainly from preventable diseases.

Working with Save the Children, the government of DRC and communities, the programme will deliver an integrated package of essential services for neonatal, maternal and child health. This will include strengthening current systems and infrastructure, to ensure that basic health and nutrition services, and  equipment, supplies and suitably trained staff are accessible to effectively treat common childhood diseases.

GSK has committed £9m to support this programme, which began in April 2013.

GSK and Save the Children in Kenya

Nearly 25% of the 39 million people who live in Kenya survive on less than $1.25 a day, and of those more than 40% are under 15 years old. Across the country, one child in ten dies before their fifth birthday and in the slums of the capital Nairobi and the rural north, this figure is much higher.

Through our partnership we have committed to support Save the Children Kenya’s newborn child survival programme. The programme will focus on improving health systems in order to reduce preventable diseases and to address under five child mortality. In addition to funding this programme, we are making a significant investment through Save the Children’s business, prioritising and progressing the research and development of vital medicines and products to reduce preventable diseases and child mortality.

We have committed over £4m to support this programme, and development is in the early stages. Funding will start later in 2013.

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