|The Business Response to HIV/AIDS: Innovation & Partnership (UNAIDS, 1997, 60 p.)|
|Examples of Company Actions on HIV/AIDS|
A. THE COMPANY
Glaxo Wellcome was formed in 1995, when Glaxo plc acquired Wellcome plc to create a global pharmaceutical company with revenues of US$ 13 billion in 1996. A research-based company, it is committed to fighting disease by bringing innovative medicines and services to patients and healthcare providers globally. Its 10 major product areas include gastrointestinal, viral and bacterial infections. The company is an acknowledged leader in HIV/AIDS research and therapy.
B. REASONS FOR ACTION ON HIV/AIDS
Glaxo Wellcome has two direct commercial interests in HIV/AIDS. First, it has invested more than US$ 800 million in developing drugs, such as Retrovir/AZT and Epivir/3TC, that are a vital part of the therapy regimens used to control symptoms in HIV-positive individuals.
Second, to protect its own employees, the company has a worldwide "workplace initiative" to update company policies relating to people with, or affected by, HIV and to encourage broad-based HIV awareness education among employees. The company also aims to work with other companies in promoting appropriate HIV policies and education in the workplace, as it recognises the threat of the disease.
The company's familiarity with HIV/AIDS, combined with its commitment to corporate responsibility, has led it to recognise the disease's special characteristics and the need for a global approach based on partnership. As Sir Richard Sykes, Chief Executive of Glaxo Wellcome, has stated: "With many others involved in this fight, including members of the business community, we learned very early on that this virus-based epidemic is different from other epidemics of the twentieth century, and that the standard public health policy, so successful against previous epidemics such as polio and smallpox, was not enough. Despite recent exciting advances in therapy, a cure for HIV/AIDS is still some way off. An effective global programme of prevention and care requires a new solution, a novel public health approach that builds on partnerships between public and private sectors at national and international levels." 1
1 Speech by Sir Richard Sykes, Chief Executive, Glaxo Wellcome, to the World Economic Forum, Davos, 3 February 1997.
C. EXAMPLE ACTIONS
To establish training needs, the company has surveyed employees worldwide on their HIV/AIDS awareness and produced an "Employee Education Kit" as the basis for workplace activities around the world. These activities vary in France, for example, the company holds twice-yearly meetings of employees on HIV/AIDS issues, while in Singapore, the UK and other countries, it has shared the information with other companies in the community as part of helping to spread good practice.
Glaxo Wellcome's belief in tackling the issues through partnerships has led it to develop the "Positive Action" programme, a sophisticated international strategy that mixes extensive social investment and philanthropic initiatives. The programme is not a charitable fund in the traditional sense, but seeks to develop long-term global partnerships with people living with HIV/AIDS, their support and advocacy groups, agencies, governments and others, in this way to prevent the spread of HIV and to enhance the lives of those already infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Through the Positive Action programme, Glaxo Wellcome has invested more than US$ 32 million worldwide in four priority initiatives:
1. The HIV Community Support Initiative
This initiative aims to encourage dialogue with and support of AIDS service organisations, self-help groups, counsellors and other agencies within the HIV/AIDS community, assisting their development and facilitating the sharing of experience and best practice. Projects assisted to date include: (1) global, regional and country conferences for people living with AIDS; (2) the work of the HIV/AIDS Alliance, an international NGO that links communities in the developing world and enables them to respond to AIDS rapidly and effectively, and (3) in Mexico, the publication of a magazine for people with HIV/AIDS.
2. The Developing Countries Initiative
Governments in developing countries cannot effectively meet the challenge of HIV/AIDS alone, and strengthening community-based groups to take action on their own initiative is vital. This programme seeks to empower affected communities in developing countries to access information, acquire skills and establish communications with resource centres around the world. Key to the work is disseminating integrated, culturally sensitive and community-centred models of good practice in HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Glaxo Wellcome's support includes: (1) eight pilot projects of the Population Council to develop local community resources to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa; and (2) training workshops for community groups in Thailand.
3. The Children and Young People Initiative
The goals of this initiative are to identify and address the needs of children, young people and families affected by HIV, and to educate and help young people to protect themselves from HIV. The work has included: (1) international conferences for doctors and social workers concerned with children infected by, and at risk of, HIV/AIDS; and (2) extensive youth education projects in Africa and Asia.
4. The Information and Policy Initiative
Disseminating accurate information on HIV/AIDS and promoting appropriate policy development will help ensure a well-informed society including its leaders and opinion formers that is supportive of those with HIV/AIDS. This part of Positive Action has contributed to: (1) the development of the "Declaration of Human Rights for People with HIV and AIDS"; (2) the first meeting of European parliamentarians on HIV/AIDS in 1995; (3) a WHO meeting on HIV prevention and care in Central and Eastern Europe; and (4) conferences of journalists to encourage accurate and sensitive reporting of HIV/AIDS issues.
Contact: Ben Plumley
Glaxo Wellcome Plc
Glaxo Wellcome House
Greenford, Middlesex UB6 0NN
Tel: 44 181 966 8371
Fax: 44 181 966 8827