The global health crisis we face today is an unprecedented challenge for our society. Our Board of Directors and member companies have immediately responded to this crisis through doing what they can to help their employees, the South African community, and government through various initiatives.
Here are some of their stories:
In research, we have enormous experience in inventing antivirals and vaccines. We have a team of scientists assessing internally available antiviral candidates and vaccine assets for potential to impact the COVID-19. MSD has shown through our work on our Ebola vaccine – the first and fastest WHO pre-qualified Ebola vaccine in the world, that we know what it takes to get a vaccine across the finish line in a global public health emergency like the one we are facing now. But we also appreciate that the path to a new medicine or vaccine is not fast, nor is it easy. As was the case with many diseases, we are optimistic that our industry’s efforts will create new tools to combat this coronavirus. This pandemic underscores the need for our company and our industry to continue to invest in research for the greatest health threats.
Our clinical trials are continuing. Driven by our steadfast commitment to patients, we are making every effort to ensure that patients in affected areas, who are enrolled in clinical trials, are able to continue their treatment and receive appropriate care and monitoring.
We are also actively engaged in a variety of relief efforts to help people and communities around the world, including contributing financial support to global relief organizations and donating personal protective equipment for use by healthcare workers to areas of need that have been identified. We know from previous pandemics that maternal mortality increases during these times of crisis. Therefore, through MSD for Mothers, we are committing an additional USD3 million to help address critical maternal health needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In SSA, MSD’s long-standing partner – PharmAccess Foundation – will start testing for COVID-19 in a select number of facilities in Kenya, while also coaching its network of over 2000 SafeCare facilities across Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana, on identifying potential COVID-19 infections and on implementing infection control measures. Through MSD for Mothers’ partnership with Nivi, which has over 350 000 users in Kenya, this digital conversational platform is providing accurate information on COVID-19 and dampening the spread of misinformation – particularly amongst young adults. We have reached out to our partners involved in rolling out the AskNivi platform to support the roll-out of this initiative in SA. We believe that this platform could be impactful in reaching the youth and adolescent market and in propagating the Department of Health’s messaging on COVID. AskNivi will be able to surface real-time insights around what people are asking and what information they are seeking.
Locally, we are contributing to the Solidarity Fund as well as supporting the healthcare working group of Business South Africa to ensure the healthcare workers in South Africa have critical protective and medical equipment. We have so far facilitated the arrival of Personal Protective Equipment in SA including: 900 000 sterile gloves, 20 000 face shields; 1.12 million N95 masks; 6 million surgical masks for healthcare workers; 8.5 million surgical masks for patients and 200 ventilators. In addition to supporting volunteer hours from our employees (particularly the medical personnel and pharmacists) who are serving communities in need, we are partnering with African Childrens Feeding Scheme (ACFS) to provide food packages to those who no longer have access to food. The latter partnership is supported through a financial donation which would facilitate the procurement and distribution of food hampers.
We continue to consider other possible ways to support our communities as well as national and local relief efforts. Our commitment to investing today in Africa’s health for tomorrow remains unwavering.”