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Abbott India: Fostering humanity

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A public listed pharmaceutical company, Abbott India is a part of Abbott’s global pharma business in India. The company believes that an innovative, responsible and sustainable business plays an important role in building a healthy, thriving society — in India and around the world. Reliving the company’s coveted efforts, Bhasker Iyer, Divisional Vice President and Head, Abbott India says, “We strive to foster economic, environmental and social well-being as we pursue the work of discovering, developing, manufacturing and distributing products that enhance people’s health. In India, our strategic approach to responsible and inclusive business is informed by the country’s unique challenges and opportunities to improve lives.”

Holistic approach

“We strive to foster economic, environmental and social well-being as we pursue the work of discovering, developing, manufacturing and distributing products that enhance people’s health.”
Bhasker Iyer
Divisional Vice President & Head, Abbott India

Abbott works with partners such as local governments, healthcare providers, non-profit organisations, associations and consumer groups to serve current healthcare needs, while shaping new methods of care and improving treatment and nutrition standards to bridge existing healthcare gaps in India.

The day is not very far when India will become the world’s diabetes capital. Today’s fast moving lifestyle has resulted the rampant growth in diabetes affected patients in India. And to work on the area, the company has already initiated under the Abbott’s Foundation, the Abbott Fund, which is providing a $2 million grant to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) to conduct a four-year pilot project in Chennai to address gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), a significant issue of maternal and child health in India, affecting more than five million women. Highlighting the importance of the projects Iyer says, “Working with the leading diabetes stakeholders, the project will develop a new model of care approach for women with GDM through the establishment of new treatment management guidelines to provide high-quality care in resource-limited settings. The potential reach of this initiative is significant; once finalised, the IDF plans to introduce the guidelines in countries around the world to improve the treatment of GDM globally.”

The company’s diabetes continuum of care takes a holistic approach that covers awareness, diagnostics, treatment, monitoring and compliance. “This is delivered both through our core business, working together with the government to train health workers on diabetes prevention and management, and in partnership with leading foundations and organisations,” adds Iyer.

Beside these, Abbott has also partnered with Operation Asha to combat TB/diabetes co-infection. Informing about the programme, Iyer elaborates, “Building on Operation Asha’s existing programmes that bring TB prevention, testing and treatment right to the doorstep of hard-to-reach urban populations, Abbott is supporting a pilot initiative in Delhi that aims to raise awareness of TB/diabetes co-infection, and seek to uncover the best ways to diagnose and manage co-infection. The partnership aims to share learnings globally, potentially helping to address co-infection in countries where TB burden is high and chronic diseases like diabetes are on the rise.”

Beyond diabetes, Abbott has several initiatives designed to address other critical issues in India. Speaking about them, Iyer informs, “Abbott Nutrition reaches out to mothers of school-going children through its SureMoms initiative, which was launched in 2012, educating them about the importance of complete, balanced nutrition. The objective is to interactively enhance knowledge on the issue of fussy eating for children in the age-group of two to 10 years. The initiative has reached out to 25,000 mothers and more than 200 schools across the country.” The initiative has engaged around 20,000 more mothers over the last year. This year, we plan to reach 45,000 mothers covering 10 Indian cities.”

Besides these, the Government of Puducherry and Abbott have signed a three-year agreement to improve awareness of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidaemia (cholesterol related disorders) and thyroid disorders; and implement initiatives to fight them and record their prevalence in the Union Territory (UT) of Puducherry. This approach is expected to impact health outcomes of nearly 700,000 people above the age of 30 years in the UT.

Leveraging scientific expertise

Abbott nutrition scientists are working with PATH to improve its Ultra Rice fortification technology in ways that reduce costs while improving nutritional value, ease of manufacturing, stability and taste. Through the public sector programmes alone, the Indian government provides approximately 30 million metric tonnes of rice to an estimated 450 million consumers – which points to the potentially far-reaching impact of Ultra Rice in India. In addition, because fortified rice will be produced by local businesses and rice millers, the programme will build and empower local capacity and strengthen local distribution chains.

Iyer illuminates, “Enhancing a daily staple with nutrients so that it still looks, cooks and tastes like rice – and keeping it affordable – is a considerable challenge. By combining the nutrition expertise of Abbott and PATH, the partnership aims to introduce new formulations of Ultra Rice that will effectively deliver nutrients to help address malnutrition.”

The enhanced Ultra Rice technology developed by PATH and Abbott nutrition scientists, product developers and food engineers holds great potential to reduce malnutrition in many other countries where malnutrition is high and rice is a staple food. PATH and Abbott’s foundation, the Abbott Fund, are also working to build local production capacity, expand distribution of fortified rice in India’s public and private sectors, and develop low-cost quality assurance tools to ensure production of high-quality fortified rice. Abbott Fund has provided a three-year, $1.5 million grant for refining and scaling up the production and distribution of fortified rice using PATH’s Ultra Rice fortification technology.

Humanitarian initiatives

  • Disaster relief
    In 2013, Abbott provided nearly $20,000 worth of product donations to respond to Cyclone Phailin, which hit the coastal areas of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh in India. Abbott products were distributed through AmeriCares’ network of response partners in the region.
  • Product donations
    Since 2005, Abbott has distributed more than $5.2 million worth of nutritional and pharma products to India. These donations have helped combat a wide range of diseases, expanding access to medicines that are critical to addressing maternal and child health and treatment of infections and childhood illnesses like malnutrition and dehydration.
  • Rooting for sustainability
    Summing up, Iyer states, “Our citizenship efforts are aligned with our business strategy. By working to deliver innovative new approaches to addressing critical healthcare and social challenges in India and around the world, we can sustainably realise our potential by helping others realise theirs. Through responsible business and citizenship activities, we also engage with society more effectively, and build a more inclusive business that reaches more people, in more places, than ever before. This helps us find new opportunities to expand the positive impact of our people, products and business in communities across India.”

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