Grameen Health, an affiliate of Grameen Bank, the pioneering micro-financing organization in Bangladesh that shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for its work to alleviate poverty, announced today that it will establish independent partnerships with Pfizer Inc., GE Healthcare, and Mayo Clinic to create sustainable models for healthcare delivery in the developing world.
Grameen Health has chosen to work independently with these partners because of their respective expertise: Pfizer Inc is the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company, GE Healthcare is the world’s largest manufacturer of medical devices such as ultrasound and CT/MRI, and Mayo Clinic is the world’s first and largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice.
These multiple, independent collaborations will focus on social business models in which the businesses are self-supporting and any profits are re-invested into the system in order to reach more of the poor. This approach is cost-effective and maximizes the benefits that patients receive. The models will be transferable to other healthcare delivery systems.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), among the biggest obstacles to improved health outcomes are inadequate health delivery and financing mechanisms that place the heaviest burden on the poor and sick, who are the least able to pay.
The independent collaborations will initially explore and evaluate ways to improve the existing Grameen Health delivery and financing systems in Bangladesh, with the aim of creating models that can be adapted for the needs of the 4 billion people around the world whose annual income is less than $3,000.
“As we address the challenges of global health access, we are pleased to partner with these and other organizations that share our belief that solutions to improving access to medicines and healthcare can be socially responsible and sustainable, yet commercially viable,” said Professor Muhammad Yunus, who shared the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize with Grameen Bank, which he founded and now directs. “In Bangladesh, we have found that only an economically viable solution can create the infrastructure needed to enable people to sustain themselves, alleviating the poverty cycle. We believe our knowledge and expertise in micro-financing can be applied toward the development of a sustainable health care system.”
During the next year, the collaborations will focus on the following areas:
— Implementing primary health promotion and disease prevention programs. These are the most cost-effective steps in affordable health care, and include maternal and child health promotion and nutrition programs.
— Analyzing ways to expand and improve the current low-cost micro-health delivery and insurance programs at Grameen Health’s 38 existing Kalyan clinics.
— Developing continuous training programs for nurses, technicians and physicians.
— Reviewing operating efficiencies and scope of services (e.g., telemedicine, mobile health care) at Grameen Health’s Kalyan clinics.
— Introducing genomic, epidemiological, and outcomes research capability for the prevention and treatment of diseases relevant to the population in Bangladesh, with an emphasis on the best use of existing tested and approved procedures and drugs.
Grameen Health and its partners hope to develop appropriate and sustainable models for healthcare delivery and rural primary care clinics, with the goal of replicating these models in other countries. Pfizer is dedicating key employees to provide technical and advisory support to evaluate Grameen’s existing healthcare delivery systems in Bangladesh. GE Healthcare will test delivery of ultrasound capability in rural clinics for early detection of abnormalities, and Mayo Clinic will work to improve the training, efficiency, and retention of staff at existing Grameen Health Kalyan clinics.
“Pfizer is honored to work with Grameen to explore the development of nonconventional, efficient and sustainable health financing and delivery models. We believe Grameen’s world-renowned success in providing innovative financial solutions for the poor, coupled with Pfizer’s health care experience, human capital and extensive arsenal of medicines, has the potential to improve the lives of millions of patients,” said Jean-Michel Halfon, Area President of Canada, Latin America, Africa, and Middle East pharmaceutical operations, Pfizer Inc.
“GE Healthcare is committed to early health initiatives,” said Omar Ishrak, President and Chief Executive Officer, Clinical Systems, GE Healthcare. “We have affordable technology with advanced imaging and care capabilities that can make a difference to save lives. With the ubiquitous usage of ultrasound, GE believes it’s provided a crucial tool in the early care of expectant mothers. We intend to work with Grameen Health to further understand and expand ultrasound usage in rural areas. Through this pilot program we plan to train providers in the usage of ultrasound, evaluate the product, the training and the workflow that would be needed to enable the full deployment of this technology. This is one positive step towards accessible and sustainable healthcare for the developing world.”
“Mayo Clinic and Grameen are exploring opportunities where our organizations can work collaboratively based on the junction of our missions and strategic priorities,” said Denis Cortese, M.D., president & CEO, Mayo Clinic. “These opportunities range from new methods of delivering care and dissemination of knowledge and best practices to education, clinical research and the use of new technology in non-traditional settings. Our two organizations are working diligently to find the opportunities that will have the best likelihood of improving health care delivery in developing countries.”
Professor Yunus adds: “Improving health care access and quality worldwide is a huge and long-term project. We would like to invite other partners and thought leaders to join in on the collaboration with Grameen Health, or to create their own social health care business models and share the results with us.”
Pfizer is the world’s largest research-based biomedical and pharmaceutical company, with 85,000 colleagues operating in more than 150 countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly one-third of the molecules on its “Essential Medicines List” are Pfizer medicines. For more information about Pfizer, visit www.pfizer.com.
About GE Healthcare
GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services that help clinicians around the world with new ways to predict, diagnose, inform and treat disease. GE Healthcare’s broad range of products and services enables health care providers to better diagnose and treat cancer, heart disease, neurological diseases and other conditions earlier. GE Healthcare’s vision is to enable a new “early health” model of care focused on earlier diagnosis, pre-symptomatic disease detection and disease prevention. For more information about GE Healthcare, visit www.gehealthcare.com
About Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is the first and largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice in the world. Doctors from every medical specialty work together to care for patients, joined by common systems and a “patient first” philosophy. More than 3,300 physicians, scientists and researchers and 46,000 allied health staff work at Mayo Clinic, which has sites in Rochester, Minn., Jacksonville, Fla., and Scottsdale/Phoenix, Ariz. Collectively, the three locations treat more than half a million people each year. For more information about Mayo Clinic, visit www.mayoclinic.com
About Grameen Health
Grameen Health (GH) aims to extend the success of the microfinance model to health care by designing and developing a bottom-up health care infrastructure built from sustainable best practices in a broad range of health care services around the world, and improving upon them to deliver the highest quality health care in an efficient and sustainable manner for a broad market, including the poorest of the poor. GH will enable the poor to be self sufficient in addressing their health care needs such that they can accept, but not require, outside assistance.
GH will be a nation-wide healthcare service for all people, but particularly focused on the poor women and children. Just as Grameen Bank brought financial services at an affordable price to poor women, GH will aim to bring state-of-the-art health services to all people — particularly poor women and children. GH is in discussion with some of the world’s leading health providers. In addition to Mayo Clinic, GE Healthcare and Pfizer, Grameen is working on plans for collaborations with Massachusetts General Hospital, John Hopkins Hospital of the USA, Narayana Hrudayalaya of India, Johnson and Johnson, Bayer, BASF, Aga Khan University, and others.
This initiative will lead to the creation of a world class medical college and hospital, specialized hospitals, research centers in a 200 acre Health City, a series of nursing colleges, training programs for technicians, second tier hospitals, and rural health management centers throughout the country. Each rural health management center will be dedicated to improving and maintaining the health status of the people in its region, particularly focused on the poor women and children. These centers will be IT-linked with the Health City in Dhaka for continuous attention by specialist doctors and nurses. Through the nursing colleges, GH will train Bangladeshis — particularly the newly educated class of Grameen borrowers’ daughters — to choose nursing as a profession and to serve in Bangladesh and abroad.