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GSK partners with Save the Children to tackle child mortality in Africa

Firm will develop and distribute medicines in some of the world’s poorest countries 

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has begun a partnership with London headquartered charity Save the Children that aims to help reduce child mortality in Africa.

By developing and making available 'adapted' medicines, the partnership aims to save the lives of one million children over the next five years.

Among the key initiatives is the transformation of an antiseptic used in mouthwash into a powder-form antibiotic to be used to tackle pneumonia in new-borns.

The two organisations have pledged to share expertise, resources, reach and influence to try to tackle some of the leading causes of child deaths.

Pilot schemes will be run in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, looking into ways to accelerate availability of medicines, widening vaccine coverage and training the countries' healthcare workers. These practices will then be scaled up and replicated across other developing countries.

"A partnership of this scale gives us an opportunity to do something amazing – to save the lives of one million children and to transform the lives of millions more," explained GSK CEO, Sir Andrew Witty.

"At GSK we are motivated by developing innovative life-saving medicines and getting them to the people that need them. By joining forces with Save the Children, we can amplify these efforts to create a new momentum for change and stop children dying from preventable diseases.

"I hope this partnership inspires GSK employees and sets a new standard for how companies and NGOs can work together towards a shared goal."

This is not the first campaign GSK has launched that aims to tackle childhood diseases in poverty stricken countries; the company is also currently working with Vodafone to improve vaccination rates in Mozambique.

For the Save the Children initiative, the British pharma company has committed at least £15m over the course of the partnership, partly in donations from its 104,000 staff worldwide, as well as contributions through research and development (R&D) programmes.

The partnership will mean Save the Children will have a seat on GSK's new paediatric research and development board, which will be looking for ways to identify ways to protect children under five, including antiseptic gel and child-friendly antibiotics.

"This ground breaking partnership involves both organisations working in genuinely new ways to save the lives of a million children," said Justin Forsyth, chief executive, Save the Children.

"In the past Save the Children may not have embarked on a collaboration with a pharmaceutical company like GSK. But we believe we can make huge gains for children if we harness the power of GSK's innovation, research and global reach."

Almost seven million children died in 2011 because of lack of access to basic healthcare, vaccines or nutritious food. However, child mortality is falling, having dropped by 700,000 in the past year alone, Forsyth said, adding that this "gives a glimmer of hope for the future".

14th May 2013

From: Research, Marketing

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