With the end of COVID-19 uncertain, Rabin Martin is focused on remaining agile and adapting our strategies, thinking, and approaches to this new reality. Our team continues to offer clients strategic counsel and implementation support across an array of critical global health issues, acutely aware of the challenges in navigating the “new normal”. This week, we are pleased to provide highlights from our team and clients related to the pandemic, as well as broader global health issues – in addition to our weekly COVID-19 update. Please click here for earlier issues of our COVID-19 Briefings.
Rabin Martin-Porter Novelli Strategic Alliance
On July 1, Rabin Martin entered into a strategic alliance with Porter Novelli to strengthen our ability to deliver cutting-edge global health solutions and policy and communications strategies for our clients that drive both business growth and positive impact. Earlier this week, David Bentley, Porter Novelli’s CEO, spoke with the Rabin Martin team about his interests in reshaping companies from a shareholder to a stakeholder orientation – which is at the core of Rabin Martin’s work and our mission to improve the health of underserved populations around the world.
Assessing COVID-19 from a business perspective, David called the pandemic “not a change agent, but an accelerant” – in helping companies recognize that they should be “more than just a profit machine.” He added that companies are seeing that they have a role in changing the world. In reflecting on the Black Lives Matter movement and social injustice, he commented that there is a realization of “how far we haven’t come” and that companies need to set the right tone for the future – including introducing new behaviors, actions, and policies that can have a direct positive impact on society.
David Bentley, CEO, Porter Novelli
Private Sector Roundtable on Global Health Security: Conversation on the Private Sector & COVID-19 Response
On Wednesday, August 5, Rabin Martin CEO Dr. Jeffrey L. Sturchio and Renuka Gadde, Vice President, Global Health at Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD), a member of the Private Sector Roundtable on Global Health Security, participated in Porter Novelli’s Purpose Summit: The Era of Stakeholder-centered Business. During their conversation exploring “Cross-sector Collaboration in the Pandemic Era & Beyond,” Jeff and Renuka discussed the importance of companies working closely with governments, multilateral agencies, and NGOs to support pandemic preparedness and response. They highlighted the valuable resources and expertise the private sector can contribute to combating global health emergencies as well as the need to have relationships in place before a crisis hits.
Both emphasized that companies should focus on their core competencies – from supply chain management, to information technology, to phlebotomy training in the case of BD. Renuka encouraged companies not to shy away from collaborations with public partners, but to ask, “How can we add value?” and then pursue those opportunities by defining shared goals, actions, and metrics with their partners.
Merck & Co., Inc. Convenes Cancer Care Dialogue with Chatham House
Merck and Chatham House are hosting a series of dialogues on Maintaining Progress in Cancer Care with Rabin Martin’s counsel. The series aims to assess the impact of COVID-19 on a range of areas related to cancer, including aging populations, health investments, and the application of new technologies.
- The first Dialogue examined social investments in aging populations and debated issues of health equity and decision-making in the COVID-19 era and beyond. The distinguished panel included Sharmila Nebhrajani, Chair, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE); David Taylor, Professor Emeritus, University College London; Louise Ansari, Director of Communications and Influencing, Centre for Ageing Better; and Santiago Calvo Ramos, Policy Analyst, European Commission.
- The second Dialogue addressed questions about how countries can make more strategic choices to achieve greater health value for their money, protect cancer funding in the face of competing health priorities, and collaborate to ensure sustained progress in cancer care. Panelists included Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, President, Union for International Cancer Control; Philippe Drouet, Senior Vice President, Oncology Global Marketing & Market Access, MSD; and André Ilbawi, Medical Officer, Cancer Control, World Health Organization.
- The third and final Dialogue, “New Ways of Working in a Time of Crisis – Applying Learnings from COVID-19 to Strengthen Cancer Care,” will take place at 8:00 am ET on Thursday, August 13. We invite you to register here.
Request for Proposals: Merck for Mothers’ Safer Childbirth Cities Initiative
Merck for Mothers is still accepting proposals for the second cohort of the Safer Childbirth Cities initiative – a nationwide effort to improve maternal health and reduce disparities in childbirth outcomes in the U.S. Rabin Martin is proud to support this initiative which has already awarded grants to community-based organizations in 10 cities with a high burden of maternal mortality and morbidity. Funding enables organizations to implement locally responsive, evidence-informed interventions and test innovative approaches to help their cities become safer and more equitable places to give birth – especially in the context of COVID-19. The deadline for applications is Monday, August 24.
Sharing Perspectives: Global Health Council Lunch & Learn
Our team organizes regular “Lunch & Learns” with global health leaders to garner new perspectives and keep up to date with the latest developments in global health. Recently, the team spoke with Loyce Pace, President and Executive Director, Global Health Council, who discussed the organization’s advocacy work to drive global health policy. In support of the COVID-19 response, Loyce emphasized the importance of re-thinking global health approaches to reduce inequalities in health. The team dove into the need to keep global health security high on the U.S. political agenda and to increase investments in preventing health threats.
Rabin Martin Expertise: Market Access Trends and Challenges
Our team is eager to share knowledge and best practices with broad audiences on key issues in global health. On Monday, August 10, Rabin Martin Vice President Lucia Cordon will give a virtual lecture as part of the University of Copenhagen’s course on “Market access for pharmaceutical products – trends and challenges,” organized in collaboration with Roche Diagnostics International. The course provides insights into key market access principles for professionals in the pharmaceutical industry and Lucia’s lecture will examine public policy and market access dynamics, using the development of COVID-19 vaccines as a case study. Register for the course here.
Multilateral-Private Sector Collaboration
Michele Forzley, JD, MPH, is the Editor in Chief of UN Health Update, publisher of Global Conversations on Health and Vaccines on Point. Both monitor health-related activities at multilateral organizations with a focus on access to medicines, vaccines, and medical technologies.
Q: Seventy-five years in, why should companies care about the UN?
A: Despite its limitations, particularly regarding interactions with the private sector, the UN system is a force in shaping social, environmental, and economic trends across all countries. In recent years, much of the UN’s attention has been focused on the health sector, where countries are increasingly adopting shared concepts of health, such as access to medicines as a human right. Though these concepts might not be absorbed into national law and policies immediately, they become part of the advocacy dialogue. In time, faster in some countries and slower in others, the ideas become embedded and companies operating in these countries will be subject to them.
Q: Given the COVID-19 pandemic, how should multinational companies be engaging with the UN and to what end?
A: Right now, given the COVID-19 pandemic, at a minimum, companies should monitor what is happening at the multilateral level. Conversations within the UN are a key source of strategic intelligence to be used in business decision making. UN Health Update follows and interprets global conversations on health at UN bodies including the WHO, UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the World Trade Organization. Additionally, companies ought to engage with the UN through their national representatives, providing private sector viewpoints to inform national policies in relation to UN initiatives. Companies can also intervene through accredited non-state actors by developing papers, organizing side events to key global fora like the UN General Assembly (such as those arranged by Rabin Martin), and by interacting directly with foreign government representatives and UN officials at their offices in New York and Geneva.
Q: What do you wish industry – especially the health sector – knew about the UN?
A: I wish the private sector knew the breadth of issues each UN agency covers and their potential implications for the business community. For example, the WHO is not the only agency with influence over how health sector issues are managed; agencies such as UNICEF, UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UNAIDS, and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) all include health within their scopes. It is also worthwhile for industry to be mindful of the economic impact of policies set by UN organizations. For example, UNCTAD has been working on encouraging local manufacturing which, when established, may be regarded as beneficial to global industry, or considered a competitive challenge
Q: How would you like to see the UN interact differently with the private sector?
A: Right now, there are limited opportunities for direct involvement by industry groups. Apart from engaging through UN agency side events or through the few industry associations that have achieved accreditation status, the private sector has been largely sidelined. But this may be changing. I am not alone in observing that the UN is undergoing a long, albeit slow, transformation from an intergovernmental organization to a multi-stakeholder organization that considers the views – and one day possibly the votes – of civil society and industry.
If the UN is to continue to be relevant, its governance structure will need to transition into something that represents global citizenry, beyond just Member States. Some hybrid organizations, such as the Global Fund, have successfully integrated civil society and private sector stakeholders into their governance structures from the beginning or later evolved to do so. I hope the UN does the same by adapting its structure to give a voice to the business community, recognizing the essential role of a range of industry sectors in the well-being of the world. That is a change that will take time and effort. But by staying engaged, industry can support and shape the transition, noting patience will be needed along the way.
COVID-19: An On-going Crisis
In the six months after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, cases have increased more than six-fold to nearly 19 million, and deaths have more than tripled, with over 700,000 people losing their lives to COVID-19. These numbers do not include morbidity and mortality related to the disruption of routine health services, even though COVID-19 has forced already strained health systems to reduce or abandon non-acute care. A survey of 103 WHO member states found that more than two-thirds of countries reported disruptions in family planning and contraception services; half reported disruptions to prenatal care; and over a third reported disruptions to childbirth care. Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization, described a dire situation: “Without doctors and nurses available to offer other essential services at the first level of care – including pregnancy-related care, and management of chronic conditions like diabetes or infectious diseases such as HIV, TB, and malaria – these services are severely disrupted or worse yet, halted entirely.”
While some countries that experienced early epidemics are seeing a degree of epidemic control or only localized resurgences, COVID-19 continues to ravage much of the world, exacerbating inequities and poor health for millions. More than 200,000 new cases have been reported globally every day of August, with the U.S. accounting for about a quarter of new cases every day. On Sunday, August 2, Dr. Deborah Birx, Director of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, warned that the country had entered a “new phase” of the epidemic where those living in rural and urban areas are equally at risk, a shift from the first months of the U.S. epidemic when outbreaks occurred mainly in densely populated areas.
As the pandemic continues to worsen, research on treatment and vaccines advances, offering reason for optimism. Last week saw positive news from several companies developing COVID-19 vaccines as they reported encouraging clinical data and progressed in their clinical trials. The trend has continued this week with Novavax releasing early results from two preliminary studies. A trial in monkeys showed the vaccine prompted an effective immune response; and a small safety trial of 56 participants found individuals produced high levels of antibodies while reporting only mild side effects, such as site injection soreness.
After reporting positive preclinical data from simian trials last week, on Wednesday, August 5, Johnson & Johnson announced a $1 billion deal with the U.S. government to produce 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Phase 1/2a trials of the vaccine are currently being conducted in the U.S. and Belgium, evaluating the safety and efficacy of both one- and two-dose regimens.
From the Experts
“[It is] clear that when leaders step up and work intensely with their populations, this disease can be brought under control.”
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO
Monday, August 3
“Covid-19 risks derailing all our efforts and taking us back to where we were 20 years ago.”
Dr. Pedro L. Alonso, Director, WHO Global Malaria Programme
Monday, August 3
“In the coming days and weeks, children and families will be at risk of being hit simultaneously by two disasters, COVID-19 and hurricanes. This is the perfect storm we fear for the Caribbean and Central America.”
Bernt Aasen, Regional Director for Latin America & the Caribbean, UNICEF
Monday, August 3
“Latin America is facing a public health paradox: many countries are reporting record numbers of new infections – a clear sign that the virus is still rapidly spreading – yet, there’s mounting pressure to open economies and schools and continue life as usual.”
Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director, Pan American Health Organization
Tuesday, August 4
“We’re already breaching [hospital] capacity in some areas, so I think our best-case scenario is not a good one.”
Dr. Juliet Pulliam, Director,
South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis
Wednesday, August 5
Reports from International Governments and Bodies
- WHO COVID-19 Information and Guidance
- WHO Situation Reports, August 3, August 4, August 5
- CDC Coronavirus Resource Page
- COVID-19 Health Systems Response Monitor
- NCD Alliance COVID resources relevant to NCDs
Funding and Policy Trackers
- International Monetary Fund Policy Tracker
- Kaiser Family Foundation Coronavirus Policy Tracker
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Aid Tracker
- Devex Interactive Funding Tracker
Resource Pages and Market Research Literature
- JAMA Resource Center
- The Lancet COVID-19 Resource Centre
- 2019 Novel Coronavirus Research Compendium (NCRC)
- National Academy of Medicine COVID-19 News and Resources
- WIPO COVID-19 IP Policy Tracker
- The COVID Tracking Project
- PharmaIntelligence: Coronavirus – What will the Impact Be?
- Health Affairs Resource Center
- STAT News COVID-19 Tracker
- Global Health NOW’s COVID-19 Expert Reality Check
- International Association of National Public Health Institutes COVID-19 Resources
- Center for Strategic and International Studies The Reopening and Take as Directed Coronavirus Crisis Update Podcast
- Primary Health Care Performance Initiative Forum
- U.S. Global Leadership Coalition COVID-19 Issue Briefs
- Prevent Epidemics Weekly Science Review
- COVID-19 Watch Weekly Updates
What We’re Reading
- We Must Not Wait Idly for an Elusive COVID-19 Vaccine – Sir Richard Feachem, Financial Times
- How the Pandemic Might Play Out In 2021 And Beyond – Megan Scudellari, Nature
- ‘The Biggest Monster’ Is Spreading. And It’s Not the Coronavirus – Apoorva Mandavilli, The New York Times
- New Cancer Diagnoses Fell Sharply as the Coronavirus Pandemic First Hit – Elizabeth Cooney, STAT News
- How the Pandemic Defeated America: A Virus Has Brought The World’s Most Powerful Country To Its Knees – Ed Yong, The Atlantic
- The Unique U.S. Failure to Control the Virus – David Leonhardt, The New York Times
For more information or should you have any questions, please contact us.
About Rabin Martin
Rabin Martin is a global health strategy firm working at the intersection of private sector capabilities and unmet public health needs. Rooted in our mission to improve health for underserved populations, we design strategies, programs and partnerships that both deliver public health impact and drive business results. We leverage our deep knowledge and networks across a wide range of geographies and health areas to develop tailored solutions for every client engagement. We have helped many clients create bold global health initiatives and innovative multi-sector partnerships. Our specific areas of expertise include infectious disease and vaccines, non-communicable diseases, rare diseases, maternal and child health, and universal health coverage. Our clients and partners include multinational health care companies, multilateral institutions, government agencies, large foundations and leading NGOs. Rabin Martin is part of the Omnicom Public Relations Group.
About Omnicom Public Relations Group
Omnicom Public Relations Group is a global collective of three of the top global public relations agencies worldwide and eight specialist agencies in public affairs, marketing to women, fashion, global health strategy and corporate social responsibility. It encompasses more than 6,000 public relations professionals in more than 330 offices worldwide who provide their expertise to companies, government agencies, NGOs and nonprofits across a wide range of industries. Omnicom Public Relations Group delivers for clients through a relentless focus on talent, continuous pursuit of innovation and a culture steeped in collaboration. Omnicom Public Relations Group is part of the DAS Group of Companies, a division of Omnicom Group Inc. that includes more than 200 companies in a wide range of marketing disciplines including advertising, public relations, healthcare, customer relationship management, events, promotional marketing, branding and research.