Now that we’re a few months into 2017, when I look back on last year, I truly see how it was a turning point for the Novartis Foundation. Our part in the healthcare conversation in low- and middle-income countries has changed from funding specific projects. We now strive to have unparalleled impact on the health of low-income communities through a combination of programmatic work, outcomes research and its translation into policy to tackle complex global healthcare challenges. If you’d like to learn more about our activities in 2016, you can find the details in our recently published 2016 Annual Report, now available online.
And we started 2017 with a busy agenda! In February, we held an Urban Health in Africa dialogue event in Cape Town, South Africa. The dialogue looked at emerging urban health challenges, with an emphasis on the African context. The event proved that only by bringing together global and local partners from various sectors and disciplines can we work to address the underlying risk factors of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in low-income urban areas.
At the event, we also introduced our new initiative “Better Hearts Better Cities”. This multidisciplinary initiative led by the Novartis Foundation is designed to address the growing burden of hypertension in low-income urban settings and evolving ways to address them. The goal is to improve cardiovascular health outcomes via a multidisciplinary approach that addresses both hypertension and its underlying determinants and risk factors. Preliminary work has started in three cities – Dakar, Senegal; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and a third city in Brazil – and we’ll share much more as the initiative progresses.
We’ve also recently added a new member to our Board of Trustees. Vasant (Vas) Narasimhan, M. D., has joined our Board, replacing Dr. Rainer Boehm, who has retired. I’d like to thank Rainer for his many contributions to the foundation. At the same time, my fellow Board members and I are very excited to have Vas, who is Global Head of Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer at Novartis, join our board: we have much to learn from his wealth of experience and insights in global health, for our work at the Novartis Foundation.