Addressing global health challenges

Fernanda Sardinha with a patient at a Chagas disease cardiac rehabilitation center in Rio de Janeiro. (Photo)

Why is it important?

Lower-income countries – fraught with a double burden of infectious and chronic diseases – now also face COVID-19 and are redeploying already stretched resources to fight the pandemic. Disruption to healthcare systems could reverse decades of hard-fought progress, in particular against neglected diseases. We must take action to control the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining a focus on other global health priorities that take a heavy toll on vulnerable populations.

Our targets

Achieve a 50% increase in patients reached through global health flagship programs in sickle cell disease, Chagas disease, malaria and leprosy by 2025

Advance our clinical development program for our next-generation antimalarials KAE609 (cipargamin) and KAF156 (ganaplacide)

Expand our Africa sickle cell disease program to 10 countries by 2022

Advance our clinical development program for our heart failure medicine in patients with Chagas-related heart failure

Our approach and performance

At Novartis, we apply our expertise, people and full organizational capability to address major, unresolved global health challenges with the aim of transforming health in lower-income populations.

We continue to align our global health work with the Novartis access principles, leveraging research and development (R&D) to address unmet needs, expanding affordable access through novel pricing and business models, and working with partners to strengthen health systems. We aim to adopt an integrated end-to-end approach to disease management for the elimination or control of four diseases where there has been market failure and little investment in R&D: sickle cell disease (SCD), Chagas disease, malaria and leprosy. In sub-Saharan Africa, we are implementing a targeted strategy focused on reaching more patients and expanding the availability of our full portfolio of medicines.

In 2020, Novartis quickly mobilized R&D capabilities, medicines, clinical trial expertise and philanthropic aid to help address the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel restrictions and lockdowns due to the pandemic caused unavoidable delays in our global health flagship programs. Despite these obstacles, we continued to make measurable progress, expanding our work on SCD and Chagas disease, and supporting global efforts to end malaria and leprosy.

We continue to maintain a strong commitment to research for various infectious and neglected diseases through the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD). In 2020, Novartis invested approximately USD 67 million in R&D to discover new and better treatments, including through NITD. These efforts have produced three potential new medicines currently in clinical testing – two for malaria and one for visceral leishmaniasis.

In this section

Read about the progress we have made on addressing global health challenges and our flagship programs:

Joining forces to expand global access to COVID-19 solutions COVID-19 threatens communities everywhere, and it can only be addressed through the collective actions of stakeholders across private, public and philanthropic sectors in partnership with civil society.

Expanding the Novartis Africa Sickle Cell Disease program Sickle cell disease is a neglected health problem in sub-Saharan Africa, which carries 80% of the global disease burden. We are committed to expanding the Novartis Africa Sickle Cell Disease program to 10 countries by 2022.

Reimagining the fight against Chagas disease Chagas disease affects approximately 6 million people, mainly in Latin America. Novartis is pursuing an end-to-end approach, supporting efforts in drug discovery, clinical research and health system strengthening.

Advancing a strong pipeline to help eliminate malaria Malaria continues to take a heavy toll on pregnant women and children, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. For two decades, Novartis has been involved in the fight against malaria, and we are committed to continuing our efforts to help achieve malaria elimination.

Accelerating leprosy elimination Novartis and the Novartis Foundation have been working with international partners for over three decades to help eliminate leprosy, including through drug donations and innovative approaches to accelerate diagnosis.

Developing treatments for infectious and neglected tropical diseases We continue to research and develop a promising portfolio of novel drug candidates for the treatment of neglected tropical diseases that affect around 1.6 billion people worldwide.

Taking a holistic approach to antimicrobial resistance Novartis supports the global scientific consensus that overuse, underuse and misuse of antimicrobial medicines all contribute to the spread of antimicrobial resistance and that a balanced approach encompassing prevention, stewardship, access and innovation is needed.