Health Innovation and Collaboration to Support Sustainable Development Goals



The aid and development community has welcomed the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the fight against global challenges such as wiping out poverty, ending hunger, providing full employment and combating climate change. Together, the SDGs form a bold and transformative plan of action that will guide development efforts until 2030. NRS International embraces these ambitious targets and strongly believes that the private sector can play a fundamental role in sustainable development. At this year’s AIDF Asia summit, we will discuss business community engagement and how health innovations and collaborations can support the SDGs.

Goal 3 – a focus on global health

The SDGs recognise the interdependence of health and development, and provide a blueprint to end the injustices that lead to poor health and development outcomes. The scale of Goal 3, entitled ‘Good Health and Well-Being’, is particularly challenging, aiming to ensure healthy lives and well-being for all at all ages. This builds on the achievements made by the SDGs’ predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals, which made significant progress in increasing life expectancy, reducing child and maternal mortality, increasing access to clean water and sanitation, and reducing the spread of malaria, tuberculosis, polio and HIV/AIDS.

The new Goal 3 aims to improve health systems, health research and health financing in order to end the epidemics of malaria and neglected tropical diseases; to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services; and to dramatically reduce global maternal, neonatal and under-five mortality rates.

Sustained innovation and collaboration vital

At this year’s AIDF Asia summit, NRS International will present on how the dual strategies of innovation and collaboration are crucial in order to meet these targets. Indeed, as a global community, it will be impossible to make progress unless all stakeholders work together to create new and innovative solutions to persistent health problems. The active participation of the private sector is vital to achieve these goals. To contribute to this global effort, NRS International has created new products, invested in new business and field tested innovative solutions.

Product innovation: battling malaria and neglected tropical diseases

TANA Netting, part of NRS International, has long been committed to improving people’s lives by fighting malaria and other vector-borne diseases. By manufacturing more than 38 million DawaPlus® 2.0 long-lasting insecticidal nets each year in our family-run factory, we have made a significant contribution to the dramatic decline in the global burden of malaria. Our treated nets act as a protective barrier around the people sleeping under them, with the insecticide both killing and repelling mosquitoes. Yet we recognise that continued innovation and collaboration is required.

We work closely with academia, NGOs, foundations, ministries of education and beneficiaries to maintain and increase the efficacy of our tools. This has led to the introduction of new solutions for increased effectiveness in certain contexts. A good example of this approach is our recently-introduced DawaPlus® Canopy Hammock which addresses artemisinin resistance amongst loggers in the deep forests of the Greater Mekong Subregion. We partnered with the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, and communities in the Mekong Delta, to develop an innovative, fit-for-purpose hammock with an integrated DawaPlus® 2.0 long-lasting insecticidal net. The hammocks have now been deployed all across the Greater Mekong region with a high user acceptance of 94.6%.

New business: improving access to reproductive healthcare

NRS International recently announced the launch of Ulinzi Latex, a new company that will provide high quality, totally reliable and affordable reproductive health products. It aims to become the largest condom manufacturer worldwide by 2022, with an annual production capacity of eight billion pieces. This USD160 million project will bring new impetus in the fight against HIV/AIDS and will focus on the institutional market.

Explaining the rationale behind this latest company expansion, Managing Director Farhaj Sarwar said: “HIV/AIDS remains one of the world’s most significant public health challenges, and condoms, when used correctly and consistently, are highly effective in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Adding Ulinzi Latex to our portfolio of companies is a strategic step that will enable us to extend our capacity to combat global challenges.”

Field testing through partnerships: lighting the way to maternal healthcare in Sierra Leone

Only 34% of sub-Saharan hospitals have access to electricity and most health facilities lack basic resources, including light. In response, our solar division, Flexiway Solar Solutions, created a Solar Medical 6-Pack comprising four solar lights and two ultra-powerful solar head torches. The kit has been particularly welcomed by midwives and birth attendants who utilise the lights throughout antenatal, delivery and postnatal treatments.

In 2015, we partnered with Concern Worldwide’s Sierra Leone country office and its Innovations for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health initiative to conduct a market survey on this product. The aim was to better understand the value and utility of these tools for workers providing MNCH care. 18 rural health facilities from across Bo District in Sierra Leone participated in the market survey.

Survey findings showed facility-based healthcare workers found the Solar Medical 6-Pack easy to use and powerful enough to enable them to perform medical procedures they could not otherwise conduct. By rolling out such innovation solutions, the incidences of maternal and neonatal deaths can be dramatically reduced. It was also found that the lights were ideal for accompanying women to the health facility during dark. It was concluded that birth attendants became more motivated when they had the appropriate resources to deliver improved care.

Progressing with public-private partnerships

The UN has placed Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda. As Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General stated: “I am convinced that governments alone cannot tackle global development challenges. Partnerships with the private sector are crucial to achieving sustainable development.” NRS International is well versed in building such partnerships, and we believe that they can help us effectively achieve our mission of improving the everyday lives of people in need with innovative, high quality and cost-effective aid essentials. By working hand in hand with all stakeholders, we can contribute to the promotion of global health, and to the achievement of many other SDG focus areas.

For more information, please visit www.nrs-international.com

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