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Jimenez: Unprecedented opportunity for technology to improve healthcare

People now just a call, text, or tweet away from information that can empower and educate, says Novartis CEO

There is an “unprecedented opportunity” for technology to improve access to healthcare in the emerging world, according to Novartis' CEO.

Joseph Jimenez singled out rising mobile phone use in Africa, where market penetration has increased from 2 per cent to over 40 per cent in the last decade, as a key advance, saying it was transforming the lives of impoverished people in hard-to-reach areas.

“We are living in a very different world from the one that existed just a few years ago. It is a world that is increasingly interconnected, making people just a call, text, or tweet away from receiving or sending information that can empower and educate. It is a world where a gadget the size of your hand can give a political voice or access to healthcare to people who, for generations, have had neither.

“Information that is accessible through modern technology is enhancing the capability of the poor and providing them with access to a fundamental resource that can be acted upon: knowledge.”

Jimenez was speaking at the Novartis Foundation's annual symposium in Basel, Switzerland on Friday December 2, which this year focused on new media as a driver of democratisation and development.

Novartis' e-health initiatives to date have included a telemedicine collaboration with the Millennium Villages Project to support health personnel in rural areas of Ghana and an e-learning tool on childhood illness called ICATT.

It also has a public-private partnership with Roll Back Malaria called SMS for Life, which uses mobile phones and electronic mapping to help eliminate stock-outs of malaria medicines in sub-Saharan African countries where malaria is endemic.

Commenting on SMS for Life and ICATT, Jimenez said the projects had been guided by three principles: recognising “no technology, no matter how sophisticated, can replace healthcare workers”; listening before acting; and establishing multi-stakeholder partnerships.

He said: "I believe that the rapid adoption of technology in the emerging world provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to leverage that power to significantly and rapidly improve access to quality healthcare.”

Jimenez also sought to position his company as a leader in the area, saying Novartis wants to work closely with governments, international organisations, NGOs and industry on “finding, developing and implementing innovative solutions to reach patients in need".

5th December 2011

From: Marketing

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