Pfizer offers knowledge to boost self-care abilities

business December 21, 2014 01:00

By Somluck Srimalee
The Nation

4,770 Viewed

Long-term health enhanced as people learn to take care of themselves



Pfizer aims in Thailand to provide science and health knowledge so people can take care of themselves, while improving medical research and development for the country.
Christian Malherbe, head of Thailand and Indochina for Pfizer (Thailand), said  recently that the company established the independent, non-profit Pfizer Thailand Foundation in 2001 to develop science education and health improvement.
“We believe that when people have health knowledge, they will know how to take care of themselves, to distance themselves from disease,” he said.
The foundation plans a range of philanthropic activities aimed at promoting health and quality of life and enhancing education, especially in activities related to medical, pharmaceutical, scientific and public-health studies.
“We realise that no one can help anyone for life. Therefore, we aim to empower people by providing these opportunities to make life better first for themselves and then for others. 
“We pass on the gift of giving – supporting and encouraging recipients of help to become givers to society. We seek to touch the lives of many underprivileged people from all walks of life in such a way that our contributions will bring long-term … changes,” he said.
Since 2003, the foundation has provided scholarships to academically sound but underprivileged students.
Recipient profiles include high-school, medical, pharmaceutical, public-health and science students in 11 academic institutions in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Scholarships total 280 worth Bt41.37 million. So far 175 students have graduated.
“Our scholarships will provide for students until they graduate,” he said.
Besides possessing above-par academic standings, foundation scholars are deeply committed and driven to contribute to their community, echoing the foundation’s philosophy, Malherbe said.
The foundation has also provided fellowship training programmes to Lao physicians since 2012 to support the development of capacity-building for primary health practitioners. The programme is in partnership with Khon Kaen University, Health Frontiers and Universal Health Services. To date six Lao fellows have been supported.
Besides science students, the foundation has supported the social-services activities of medical students at Chiang Mai University, Chulalongkorn University and Phramongkutklao College of Medicine since 2012.
These activities aim at cultivating a sense of social responsibility in the minds of aspiring doctors and allow them to have a chance to develop communication skills, patience and empathy for their ethical and efficient performance as medical practitioners.
Since 2004, the foundation has supported the Medical Association of Thailand’s guidance sessions for medical students from all over the country to arm them with comprehensive and ethical medicine practices. 
The company also supports various medical websites and online test centres for medical professionals to gain access to essential medical knowledge.
For health and wellness, the foundation collaborated with the Pfizer Foundation in New York and the American Cancer Society to strengthen the capability of non-profit organisations. The help includes funding, planning, monitoring of projects and providing training to ensure they reach objectives and to tailor to the needs of cancer patients and people in communities. 
This three-year project was implemented in September 2008 with matching funds of Bt21 million from the Pfizer Foundation New York and Pfizer (Thailand). Five cancer organisations joined the programme.
“When we research and develop new medicines, we spend about US$1 billion on average for one product. This is for all people on the planet to use when they suffer disease. 
“To help people’s quality of life, not only using medicine, providing knowledge on how to take care of their health will be the best way,” Malherbe said.
 
Work on removing stigma
The foundation has a partnership programme with the Population and Community Development Associa-tion that enables people living with the human immunodeficiency virus to lift themselves out of poverty by providing micro-credit loans that allow them to pair up with a non-HIV carrier to set up small businesses in their communities. 
The programme also aims to reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination. 
Launched in 2004 and completed in 2009, the Positive Partnerships Programme or “Pa Tong Koh” (which in Thai means “buddy”) has helped more than 1,300 people in Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Ratchasima and Khon Kaen have a better life.
The foundation also has the Young Leadership Programme to provide further development for underprivileged children in Satun. Its partnership with the World Vision Foundation of Thailand is pursuing the programme from 2013-17 to improve children’s reading and life skills to improve literacy, which will help broaden the children’s outlook. 
The initiative aims to improve reading and essential life skills for students of Grades 1-4 at Baan Tutara School and Baan Piyai School in Langu district. Recently a camp was organised for the programme’s children to cultivate many angles of necessary life skills.
“All of our corporate social responsibility programmes are for all people to have the best health and quality of life for the long term,” Malherbe said.
The Pfizer Thailand Foundation is governed by a board of trustees whose decisions to commit financial and other resources are guided by the foundation’s mission to support education and philanthropic initiatives.