Medtronic Foundation Continues to Fight NCDs Globally
Posted on May 24, 2012 @ 02:05 pm
Founded in 1978, The Medtronic Foundation’s goals are based on the parent company’s mission statement—the sixth tenet to be exact—which states that the company aims to maintain good citizenship. The foundation’s traditional role has been as a channel for Medtronic’s strategic giving, which is aligned with what the company terms its “commitment to improving access to quality healthcare.”
The foundation has announced that it is awarding a grant of $435,000 to Partners in Health (PIH). The money is intended for PIH to work with the Rwandan Ministry of Health to establish a team of non-communicable disease (NCD) experts that will assist low-income countries in preparing national NCD plans by 2013, a goal set by the United Nations (U.N.) following the 2011 high-level meeting on NCDs.
In 2010, Medtronic’s chairman and CEO at the time, Bill Hawkins, said: “The cost in human life and health is just one dimension of the global epidemic of non-communicable disease. Insufficient management of chronic illness can have a devastating impact on economic growth and productivity, both in developed, and even more so, in developing economies where access to proven prevention and treatment options are limited. Medtronic is making a long-term strategic commitment to the fight against non-communicable diseases. By working with global stakeholders, we can bring the innovative solutions necessary to combat and ultimately overcome the unique challenges of the burgeoning chronic disease epidemic.”
Since 2010, the Medtronic Foundation has committed more than $7.5 million in NCD-related grants. In Rwanda, the foundation has supported PIH since 2009 as they closely worked with the Rwandan Ministry of Health on the integration of NCD care into the existing care system.
Medtronic Foundation’s new commitment will build on a successful model of NCD care integration developed by the Rwandan Ministry of Health together with PIH and other partners. Rwanda has been at the forefront in Africa of health sector planning, having developed a number of novel initiatives, including a community-based mutual health insurance program, universal access to antiretroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS, performance-based financing, and eHealth. These efforts have made Rwanda the only country in Africa on track to achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals set by the U.N., and an experienced leader among other low- to middle-income countries.
“The next generation of global solidarity must be more strategic, more efficient, and more country-driven,” said Agnes Binagwaho, M.D., Rwanda’s minister of health. “We have much work to do in creating a future in which the greatest risk factor for dying of a non-communicable disease is not where one is born.”
Examples of NCDs include diabetes and heart disease. Recent figures show approximately 36 million people worldwide died of NCDs in 2008, 80 percent of them in low- or middle-income countries.
“There is no reason that poorer nations can’t address these health burdens. But they will need all kinds of support,” says Paul Farmer, M.D., PIH co-founder and chief strategist. “We hope that Rwanda can offer a starting point, help develop blueprints for fulfilling an essential part of a fundamental human right.”
PIH has designated its team the NCD Synergies Unit, and the team will work with two low-income African countries with plans to add four more countries in the second year, including two non-African countries. Countries will be selected through an application process.
“Coming out of the U.N. high-level meeting, we knew that developing national NCD plans would be challenging for some countries,” said Jacob Gayle, M.D., vice president of Medtronic community affairs and executive director of the Medtronic Foundation. “We hope by making this network of experts and resources more readily available, we fill a real need in the global effort to address NCDs and strengthen health systems.”
With non-communicable diseases accounting for more than 60 percent of all deaths worldwide, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called upon the world's businesses to help address NCDs, which are expected to increase by 50 percent in developing countries by 2030. NCDs account for roughly 75 percent of healthcare costs in both advanced and developing economies, according to the World Economic Forum.
Minneapolis, Minn.-based medical device provider Medtronic is a major provider of devices for NCDs worldwide, including in the cardiovascular, diabetes, neurology and oncology sectors.
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