It is not enough to supply medicine, if the patients don’t have access to it, or are unable to afford it. Nor is it enough, if awareness, education, culture, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation aspects and needs are not incorporated and addressed. For healthcare solutions to be sustainable, a holistic approach and better collective understanding are essential, to achieve more health for future generations.
Continuing a journey that began over 135 years ago, Boehringer Ingelheim is building on its track record in addressing unmet health needs and increasing ambitions to tackle global health and societal challenges.
Our 2030 commitments include expanding access to health care for 50 million people, investing €35 billion in health innovation to tackle non-communicable diseases and €250 million in partnerships to combat emerging infectious diseases. While we believe in leading by example, our approach also focuses on the strength and value of collaboration, the integration of expertise through long-term partnerships and the development of innovative tools and technologies, to contribute towards achieving a healthier future for society.
In 2010, we teamed up with Ashoka, the largest global network of social entrepreneurs, to jointly create our flagship initiative “Making More Health”, a long-term partnership with the ambition to improve health care for both humans and animals in vulnerable communities around the globe. The initiative focuses on connecting innovative social entrepreneurial solutions with business expertise to address complex healthcare challenges and aims to have a positive impact on another 50 million people by 2030, by empowering social entrepreneurs, communities, partners and our employees. The ambition is to facilitate collaboration to co-create healthy, inclusive and sustainable communities, by focusing on the “bigger picture” of health: addressing interdependent issues relating to economic development, infrastructure, education and culture, in order to help enable systemic change.
By engaging and collaborating with communities and other partners as equals, a better understanding, awareness and access to appropriate health care, as well as tangible, positive impacts on enabling factors (such as employment prospects and living conditions) has occurred. At the same time, we are fostering a “changemaker culture” within Boehringer Ingelheim through employee engagement to support these initiatives. To date we have achieved:
Social Innovation: We support over 120 leading health innovators and social entrepreneurs worldwide from 42 countries working in the areas of human and animal health and the environment. They address much more than providing medicine.
Community Activation: We have established three community centres in India and sub-Saharan Africa, which in partnership with local NGOs and social entrepreneurs drive programmes that support local communities. These include training for more awareness on NCD prevention or tackling issues related to nutrition, basic health care and mental health. We have learned that initiative-based approaches seldom create sustainable change, so we are also resolving access to clean water and hygiene issues, implementing innovative farming models, providing animal health and business skills training, and workshops on soap production. Inclusion and equity programs for marginalised community groups, such as people with albinism, have proven to be game changers.
Cross-Sector Collaboration: We have supported 18 social enterprises through the “Business Accelerator” programme, which assists social start-ups in sub-Saharan Africa with financial means and management skills, to accelerate, scale up and sustain their business model. With an emphasis on ‘shared values’, the intention is to catalyse social innovation by leveraging the collective strengths of the social business through partnering for impact. The newly launched fund Boehringer Ingelheim Social Engagement aims to create a portfolio of complementary social businesses, enabling more sustainable and also scalable ecosystems to address healthcare challenges.
These endeavours are more than just providing medicine: Benacare, a Kenyan start-up, is striving to reduce the economic burden of long-term hospital stays for low-income families, by bringing affordable nursing services and medical equipment to their private homes. A second social enterprise, mDoc, is improving end-to-end selfcare by offering counselling, care and educating healthcare providers in Nigeria. Through MMH, mDoc is now partnering with the Chronic Drugs Medical Scheme (an e-commerce platform that aggregates demand from smaller hospitals and clinics to lower costs) and Jacaranda Maternity (which improves access and quality of maternal care) to create TeCLA (Tele-Education for Clinicians and Leaders in Africa), which upskills healthcare professionals in remote areas of Kenya and Nigeria. In 2021, they trained 1,100 healthcare professionals, positively impacting 600,000 patients. In animal health care, the social enterprise Cowtribe has implemented a ‘last mile’ veterinary vaccine and medicine distribution network in rural Ghana, which has enabled access to health care for the animals of more than 35,000 farmers, on whom their livelihood is dependent. FarmAlert in Nigeria aims to improve access to animal health support for smallholder farms, by increasing resource accessibility, building local support communities and educating farmers on key issues. In just two years, FarmAlert has increased the number of farmers it supports from 2,000 to 10,000 farmers annually.
What all these initiatives have in common is the clear focus on the bigger picture and helping to contribute to a much-needed paradigm shift, in how we as a society tackle the healthcare challenges of today. As a catalyst for change and by tapping into the expertise of more than 50,000 Boehringer Ingelheim employees, a network of over 4,000 innovative social entrepreneurs, as well as diverse partners and communities, MMH can help bring together critical puzzle pieces to create a sustainable social impact that lasts and multiplies. At Boehringer Ingelheim, we are aware that no one company or organisation can resolve today’s healthcare challenges on its own. We also understand that working together and forming strong collaborations with the right partners can create immense opportunities to better close the gap between business success and societal progress, to co-create healthier, brighter futures that can transform lives for generations.
[Image] Making More Health in action: Providing training on soap making as a source of income generation in Coimbatore, India