GSK to support training of frontline health workers across Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria

GSK is to support the training of more than 9,000 health workers in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria over the next three years. This marks a significant step in the strategy announced in March 2014 to increase access to healthcare and deliver long-term economic growth across Africa, by stimulating research; increasing capacity in local medicine supply; and strengthening healthcare infrastructure.
  • Partnerships with Amref Health Africa, One Million Community Health Workers Campaign and Save the Children
  • Build on initiatives to help strengthen health systems to manage existing and future healthcare challenges

GSK is to support the training of more than 9,000 health workers in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria over the next three years. This marks a significant step in the strategy announced in March 2014 to increase access to healthcare and deliver long-term economic growth across Africa, by stimulating research; increasing capacity in local medicine supply; and strengthening healthcare infrastructure.

In collaboration with three NGO partners – Amref Health Africa, the One Million Community Health Workers (1mCHW) Campaign and Save the Children – GSK will invest £5.85 million in supporting training of health workers. The programmes will aim to strengthen health systems by enabling staff to manage the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases, as well as to combat infectious illnesses and improve maternal and child health. Alongside training, GSK’s investment is designed to support community health education and advocacy to help ensure the programmes have a long-term, sustainable impact.  

The new initiatives build on GSK’s existing programmes to support training of frontline health workers in the least developed countries – since 2009, GSK and its partners have supported the training of 25,000 health workers, reaching 6.5 million people – and extend this into other areas in Africa where health inequalities persist.

Ramil Burden, vice-president for Africa and Developing Countries at GSK, said: “Frontline health workers are the backbone of resilient health systems. For many years, GSK has worked in collaboration to help swell the ranks of these essential staff and make sure even the most remote and underserved populations can access the care they need. This enables people to enjoy healthier lives and livelihoods, ultimately creating an environment in which communities and businesses can thrive.  We hope our partnerships will be a catalyst for others to invest in and champion health workers.”

Amref Health Africa

Over the next three years, GSK will support Amref Health Africa’s work to manage diabetes and childhood asthma in Kenya through supporting the training of 2,500 health workers. Non-communicable diseases are estimated to account for half of all hospital admissions in Nairobi, with diabetes alone contributing to more than one quarter of these admissions. Diabetes is increasingly affecting younger people in Kenya. One in 10 children aged 10-14 in Kenya is reported to be asthmatic.

Amref Health Africa’s training will be targeted to health workers, including nurses and nutritionists, who manage diabetes and childhood asthma in healthcare and community facilities. Community health volunteers will be trained in early detection and diagnosis as well as basic management of these conditions. Health promotion and education of communities will be a major focus of the training with frontline workers playing a key role in empowering communities to take charge of their health.

Dr Peter Ngatia, Director of Capacity Building at Amref Health Africa, said: “This proposed training will go a long way toward ensuring that the health workers have the necessary competencies - knowledge, skills and attitudes - needed to fight the growing burden of NCDs. They will also play a vital role in empowering communities for lasting health change.”

One Million Community Health Workers Campaign

Investment from GSK will enable the 1mCHW Campaign to support training of 1,800 health workers in Ghana, with an ambition to drive the training of thousands more health workers in subsequent years. The initial programme is anticipated to reach almost one million people.

Working with the Ghanaian government, the 1mCHW Campaign, a project of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, intends to pilot an approach whereby community health workers receive substantial training and ongoing supervision. By demonstrating the effect of this ‘gold standard’ approach to community health worker training and deployment, the 1mCHW Campaign aims to create an evidence base that will act as a catalyst for further investment in health worker training from the government and other donors across the country.

Sharon Kim, deputy director of 1mCHW Campaign, said: “Well-trained, motivated, and supported Community Health Workers (CHWs) are key to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC), especially in places where access to high-quality, affordable care is limited. This catalytic investment in Ghana’s health workforce will help Ghana to plan and work towards achieving UHC. We believe these CHWs will positively impact health in Ghana and also inspire others in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond to utilise these workers to their fullest potential.”

Save the Children

Over three years, GSK will support Save the Children’s efforts to improve access to lifesaving, quality healthcare for mothers, newborn babies and children by building the capacity of 5,000 frontline health workers across three Nigerian states. It is anticipated that these initiatives will help reach more than 400,000 children under five and their mothers.                                  

Nigeria accounts for nearly one-quarter of Africa’s maternal and newborn deaths. One out of every eight children in Nigeria will not reach the age of five, often as a result of common, preventable diseases such as malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. Save the Children is supporting government efforts to increase access to skilled health workers. GSK’s investment will allow Save the Children to build on these initiatives by training frontline health workers on managing childhood diseases and educating mothers on disease prevention and practices to ensure early detection and treatment of common illnesses.

Mavis Owusu-Gyamfi, Director of Programme Policy and Quality at Save the Children, said: “A newborn in Gombe State, Nigeria, has a 28.8% chance of having a skilled birth attendant present at birth compared to a national average of 38%. At Save the Children we do not believe the lottery of birth should determine a child’s chance of survival in their first five years. That is why we are working with GSK to build the capacity of health workers in Nigeria so that they are appropriately trained and adequately supported to give all children a fair chance of survival.”

Notes to editors

  • In March 2014, GSK announced a series of investments designed to address pressing health needs and contribute to long-term business growth in sub-Saharan Africa. It is the company’s intent to partner with governments of African countries to help stimulate more research into chronic diseases; increase capacity by localising medicines supply and skills; and strengthen healthcare infrastructure.
  • Based on GSK’s existing experiences in supporting health worker training, the £5.85 million investment is designed to support community health education, capacity building and advocacy, as well as training – to help ensure the programmes have a long-term, sustainable impact. Alongside investing in health worker training, over the past year, GSK has:
    • Created a R&D Open Lab for non-communicable diseases in Africa. From its hub at GSK’s Stevenage R&D facility in the UK, the lab will work with African scientists to conduct research to increase understanding of NCDs in Africa. Two calls for research proposals have launched, across eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa. An independent advisory board of leading scientists and clinicians will provide input to the selection and implementation of NCD research projects within a dynamic open innovation environment.
    • Progressed reviews of possible locations for new factories in Africa, with a view to building up to five factories that will support local manufacture of products such as antibiotics. GSK has held constructive discussions with local governments.
    • Collaborated with key institutions across Africa and developing countries to support academic training and development of local capabilities in science and related areas. Initiatives include a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Ghana to support a doctor of pharmacy programme; support for a manufacturing internship in Kenya and a pharmacy undergraduate programme; support for an academic chair in NGO management at BRAC University in Bangladesh; and an agreement with the Royal Society of Chemistry to support their Pan African Chemistry Network.
  • Since 2009, GSK has reinvested 20% of profits generated in the least developed countries back into strengthening their health systems through supporting training of frontline health workers with three NGOs – Amref Health Africa, CARE International and Save the Children. 25,000 health workers have so far been trained across 34 countries, reaching 6.5 million people.
  • In 2013, GSK formed a ground-breaking five-year partnership with Save the Children, to help save the lives of one million children. The partnership combines the resources and capabilities of two organisations to help bring medicines and vaccines to some of the world’s poorest children and train healthcare workers.

GSK – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For further information please visit our about us section.

Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements
GSK cautions investors that any forward-looking statements or projections made by GSK, including those made in this announcement, are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Such factors include, but are not limited to, those described under Item 3.D 'Risk factors' in the company's Annual Report on Form 20-F for 2014.