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Corporate Volunteers Can Create a Ripple Effect for Global Health

For the past eight years, IntraHealth International has partnered with Pfizer through the Global Health Fellows Program, which sends highly skilled Pfizer staff to work on specific short-term assignments with international development organizations.

Together, they help build stronger health systems—and stronger communities—around the world.“I believe that corporate responsibility is the how in how we conduct our business,” said Oonagh Puglisi, senior manager on Pfizer’s Corporate Responsibility team, speaking at SwitchPoint 2014. And the Global Health Fellows Program is a big part of that

.“If we can have a positive impact on society, we can have a stronger company, gain trust, and focus on our mission, which is to bring medicines to communities and help people live longer lives,” Puglisi said. “Almost 340 colleagues have participated in the Global Health Fellows program. That’s the equivalent of approximately $50 million in pro bono service. The ripple effect of our volunteers lasts for many years in a community.”

Pfizer Fellow Suzie Roy is now serving with IntraHealth on a six month assignment in Senegal to make family planning supplies available when and where Senegalese communities need them. We sat down with Roy to find out how it’s going so far

.Question: What first drew you to the fellowship with IntraHealth?

Answer: I was ready for new experiences, new challenges. Former Pfizer Fellows encouraged me to apply to the program, saying it would be wonderful and life-changing. When I first read about the fellowship opportunities, I was interested in IntraHealth’s program. It required experiences and abilities I have from my years working in quality control and quality assurance. And being a French-speaking person, I felt going to Senegal would be a good match.

Q: What kind of work are you doing in Senegal?

A: I’m working with IntraHealth to expand and scale up the Informed Push Model, which is a supply chain model that reduces stockouts (or shortages) of contraceptives and family planning supplies and helps make sure they’re available to clients who need them. The model had great success as a pilot project in 2012 in the Pikine and Kaolack districts of Senegal. For example, within one month, stockouts in the Pikine district fell from 57% for injectable contraceptives and 86% for contraceptive implants to below 2%. At the same time, sales of family planning supplies rose 38%. So the Senegalese government is expanding the model to the entire country.

Q: How does the Informed Push Model work?

A: Before the Informed Push Model, service delivery points placed orders for family planning supplies based on their own estimates of need. But the forecasting capabilities were poor, and transportation for shipping was unreliable. The result was frequent stockouts. With this new model, private operators pick up products from the regional supply pharmacy and deliver them to health facilities every month. Those private operators are exclusively responsible for the delivery, which allows them to understand consumption and demand for the products firsthand.

Q: What do you hope to get out of your experience as a Pfizer Global Health Fellow?

A: I hope to better understand the challenges of product supply in low-income countries. I also hope to bring back a new perspective to my work at Pfizer.

Photo courtesy of Suzie Roy. Roy is an associate in product quality operations at Pfizer Canada and has been at Pfizer for 22 years. IntraHealth’s work on the Informed Push Model is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Merck for Mothers. The Pfizer Global Health Fellows program is funded exclusively by Pfizer Inc.

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