New York, September 21 – The Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development and the Earth Institute, Columbia University today announced a new partnership in support of the Ghana Telemedicine Project, a pilot to use the latest in information and communications technology to improve point-of-service health care services in the Millennium Village of Bonsaaso, Ghana. With this $630,000 pledge, the Novartis Foundation is also renewing their Strategic Partnership as members of the Earth Institute Corporate Circle.
“This week, when world leaders meet to discuss action-oriented strategies to achieve the MDGs, commitments from great foundations like the Novartis Foundation will be pathbreaking and essential,” said Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute and Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General. “Information and communications technologies (ICTs), championed by the Novartis Foundation, have been put into operation in Millennium Villages and have enhanced the delivery of routine and emergency care in the most remote areas of Africa. We are already seeing the impact of ICTs, and how expanded connectivity can help achieve the MDGs in Ghana and around the world.”
The Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development’s commitment to the Ghana Telemedicine Project speaks to its vision of improving the quality of life through pioneering health projects. “Billions of people are currently unable to access healthcare and an astounding number die every day from preventable diseases,” said Klaus M. Leisinger, President and Managing Director of the Novartis Foundation. “At the Novartis Foundation we work to ensure long-term improvement in international health by means of concrete project work and operational research. Together with the Earth Institute, we are honored to support innovative research in Ghana and have a part in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.”
The Ghana Telemedicine Project will build upon current health sector initiatives in Bonsaaso and adapt to existing mobile health platforms, such as ChildCount+, a system that uses text messages to deliver vital health information of patients from mobile phone to a database. As part of this process, a new tele-consultation center will provide structured decision support to health workers in clinics as well as to community health workers engaged at the household level. Best practices from the Millennium Villages project will inform the development of the project and demonstrate results to the Ministry of Health in Ghana as it looks to scale-up telemedicine services across the country.
In addition to this grant, the Novartis Foundation is supporting the development of an electronic medical records system in each of the 14 Millennium Villages sites across Africa. This system delivers a communications tool for individuals and communities in remote areas – empowering community health workers with critical information and enabling them to share results with other health care providers in villages thousands of miles away.
About the Earth Institute, Columbia University:
The Earth Institute’s mission is to mobilize the sciences, education and public policy to achieve a sustainable Earth. Through interdisciplinary research among more than 500 scientists in diverse fields, the Institute is adding to the knowledge necessary for addressing the challenges of the 21st century and beyond. With over two dozen associated degree curricula and a vibrant fellowship program, the Earth Institute is educating new leaders to become professionals and scholars in the growing field of sustainable development. We work alongside governments, businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals to devise innovative strategies to protect the future of our planet.
About the Millennium Villages Project:
The Millennium Villages Project is a partnership initiative between the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Millennium Promise Alliance, and UNDP, working with impoverished rural communities to apply evidence based policies and interventions recommended by the UN Millennium Project combined with local on-the-ground knowledge and experience. The core idea of the MVP is to demonstrate that investing in practical interventions – such as improved seed and fertilizers for raising crop productivity, nutrition and school meals, long lasting insecticide-treated bed nets to reduce malaria, clinics to dispense effective treatment and care, and safe drinking water – would lead to a transformation in village life. The 80 Millennium Villages, covering 500,000 people in “hunger hotspots”, in ten sub-Saharan African countries with varying agro-ecological settings, demonstrate that the Millennium Development Goals are achievable with the right approach and level of investment.
About Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development:
The Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development is a nonprofit organization whose activities form part of the Corporate Responsibility portfolio of Novartis AG, which finances the foundation’s operations. The foundation’s mission is to support healthcare programs in developing countries, providing help for self-help. Its core competencies also include indepth analysis, consulting and publications in the fields of corporate responsibility and development policy. By harnessing synergies between project work, think tank activities and the facilitation of dialog, it elaborates innovative strategies for common development problems. In 2008, the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development invested approximately CHF 10 million in projects, largely in Africa and Asia.