Influential doer in poverty alleviation through healthcare

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/13 21:36:12

Xian Janssen makes unremitting endeavor in fight against TB, leveraging its forward-looking digital strategy

Asgar Rangoonwala, President of Xian Janssen Photo: Courtesy of Xian Janssen

China has accomplished its poverty alleviation target as scheduled against the backdrop of a gloomy global economy severely hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a multinational pharmaceutical company deeply engaged in the China market for 35 years, Xian Janssen Pharmaceutical Ltd. (Xian Janssen) has participated in the extraordinary process with unremitting endeavor to promote public health.

As a provider of holistic medical and healthcare solutions, in the practices of addressing public health challenges, Xian Janssen has built up rich experiences in tackling poverty due to illness in underdeveloped areas and has formed a renewed understanding in fulfilling the corporate responsibility for poverty alleviation.

With recently launched programs - the Yunnan End MDR-TB Project and Gannan Donation Project - Asgar Rangoonwala, President of Xian Janssen, said that in China's overall campaign of poverty alleviation through healthcare, Xian Janssen should bring the company's advantages in full play to ensure every individual in the country can obtain quality healthcare in the post-COVID-19 new normal.

Facilitating China's public health beyond medicines

China recently announced that this second-largest economy in the world has accomplished its poverty alleviation target, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The China Primary Health Care Foundation also announced the establishment of the Lifelong Public Welfare Fund in Kunming, Southwest China's Yunnan Province, aimed at improving the prevention and cure of MDR-TB in China.

Partner Representatives Announced the Launch of Lifelong Public Welfare Fund Photo: Courtesy of Xian Janssen

The Yunnan End MDR-TB Project prompted by Professor Zhang Wenhong was officially launched as the first project. With the support of Xian Janssen, the project was jointly launched by different entities including Ali Health, assembling a pharmaceutical subsidiary of the world's largest healthcare company and a flagship healthcare platform of a digital giant. 

The Fund will promote the project by boosting the clinical skills of primary care in MDR-TB prevention and treatment. Xian Janssen will apply its expertise to upskill the medical staff in TB and MDR-TB prevention and treatment in Yunnan as part of the project.

China initiated its project for poverty alleviation through healthcare nationwide in 2016. Xian Janssen's efforts to fight TB including MDR-TB, an infectious disease that troubles low income populations in remote areas, have lined up with the national initiatives.

MDR-TB is one of the most challenging public health issues. In 2019, about 10 million people were infected with TB worldwide, with more than 830,000 new TB cases in China. Increased resistance to commonly used drugs and thus developing MDR-TB cases are exacerbating this problem.

Besides Xian Janssen's SIRTURO® for treating MDR-TB, which was the first novel TB medicine approved in China in nearly half a century and now enlisted into NRDL, the company has been working closely with the Chinese government and organizations to deploy disease education around the country.

Since 2017, the tuberculosis new drug introduction and protection (NDIP) project has been carried out collaboratively. As part of this project, Xian Janssen has jointly trained a large number of medical staff from 98 TB-specialized hospitals across 31 provinces in China. More than 1,500 MDR-TB patients in China had received the medicine free of charge as of earlier this year.

"The biggest challenge lies in that MDR-TB patients are very hard to find because mostly they are living in relatively rural areas. So, the first mission is to find these patients and to provide access to treatment for them. And to tackle this issue, we already have different projects in China," Rangoonwala said in a media interview on December 8.

Since 2018, Xian Janssen has supported a project to discover cases of MDR-TB covering 10 million people in 22 impoverished counties in the three central and western provinces including Jiangxi, Shaanxi, and Shanxi.

Focused on improving the discovery, treatment and management of MDR-TB in China with innovative products and a caring attitude, the company is to support China in realizing the global goal of "End TB 2035."

Everybody is working together in the newly-launched project with the clear, shared objective to eradicate MDR-TB in Yunnan first as an archetype, and then to expand it to other provinces, Rangoonwala said.

Supporting Poverty Alleviation with Digitalization Solutions

A major transition the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the world in 2020 is digitalization, which also affects healthcare, while the diagnosis, treatment and management of MDR-TB patients have become more challenging.

On December 2, the first online prescription in the history of global tuberculosis treatment was delivered for a MDR-TB patient. As the most important drug in the therapeutic regimen, SIRTURO® improves the odds of achieving health and well-being of the patients with the application of digitalization. Amid the troubles brought in by the pandemic, Xian Janssen with partners brings hope to the waiting patients with internet-based healthcare solutions.

According to public data, in the first half of 2020 alone, there have been 215 e-hospitals listed in China, approaching the total of 223 in 2019.

As digitalization enters the core of diagnosis and treatment, e-hospitals have become the new healthcare infrastructure in many regions. By the end of June, nearly 600 e-hospitals had been approved and established across the country.

Because of COVID-19, patients no longer travel, but they cannot wait for treatments until the pandemic is all over. The Chinese government already envisioned providing internet-based healthcare solutions nationwide, Rangoonwala said, adding that "this is outstandingly forward-looking. I think the Chinese government is the pioneer in the world."

In September, Xian Janssen co-established an E-hospital New Model with the First Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University, which was the first instance of a multinational pharmaceutical company and a comprehensive 3A hospital cooperating in the field of e-hospital in China.

Just a few months afterwards, the Hospital was assigned to support Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Northwest China's Gansu province and to provide better healthcare solutions for local people.

Partner Representatives Announced the Launch of Gannan E-hospital Photo: Courtesy of Xian Janssen

The model has enormous potential for chronic disease management and its accessibility to underdeveloped areas. "I strongly believe that digitalization is the future and will play a vital role in improving China's overall healthcare system," Rangoonwala said. Also, the model would support academic activities and digital capability development to ensure medical expertise and end-to-end solutions are fostered for remote areas.

Through practice in the Gannan project, Xian Janssen also formed a deeper understanding of the companies' corporate responsibility for poverty alleviation.

"The role we can play is not just to donate," Rangoonwala said, adding that "Xian Janssen can provide access to the treatment, connecting hospitals in remote areas with top-class hospitals where we have advanced healthcare measures to ensure that patients in every corner of this beautiful country have the same chance to a better treatment outcome."

Xian Janssen has already been in China for 35 years as one of the first multinational pharmaceutical companies to enter China. It seems natural for the innovation-driven company with strong capacity of implementation to be engaged in new trends and in components which lead to better treatment outcomes for billions of Chinese people.

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