How Pfizer is supporting SDG #3: Good health and well-being

Caroline Roan: We were proud to sign on to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

For us goal number three is our north star: "Good health and wellbeing." Every day our scientists are working to discover, develop and bring to market medicines and vaccines that help people live longer and healthier lives. And for us goal number three allowed us to have a dialogue and an engagement with the United Nations and with governments globally to ensure that we're partnering with them to provide access to quality healthcare.

When we think about access to medicines we think about a comprehensive strategy that includes both donation and philanthropic support as well as creative commercial strategies designed to drive access to the most vulnerable and underserved populations globally.

So for Pfizer we have a number of initiatives that we're very proud of. One which I like to say is our oldie but goodie was launched in 1998. The International Trachoma Initiative was launched to address a blinding disease called trachoma. At the time it was launched, we had a product that treated active infection that causes this disease. And if the infection goes untreated over time people do go blind. And what we discovered was that our medicine could treat this infection, but our medicine was not sufficient: Alone that medicine would not do the work that needed to be done at a public health level.

For our work to address a blinding disease called trachoma we've used a public health strategy called SAFE. SAFE stands for surgery – S, for advanced cases of the disease. A – the distribution of the antibiotic that Pfizer makes to treat the active infection. F which is face washing and E which is environmental development. Together that comprehensive initiative working now with more than a hundred partners has achieved elimination of this disease in six countries. That's profound. And it's one of our greatest accomplishments as a company. It did not happen overnight. It has taken more than two decades to achieve that progress, but we have our eyes on the prize which is full elimination of this disease by the year 2020.

Another example where Pfizer is working to meet the evolving global health needs is in the area of oncology. We have chemotherapy agents that are very important for patients globally. And we worked with our partners, the American Cancer Society, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and CIPLA to make 11 prioritized chemotherapy agents available in East Africa where there is a disproportionate burden of cancer. We're really proud of that initiative because we're taking some of our very important core essential medicines and making them available to reach more patients in areas of the world that several years ago did not have this need.

So the business case for corporate responsibility has been debated for years and there are different perspectives on this. I think for Pfizer and for the pharmaceutical companies we can't deliver our business unless we deliver for society.Keeping that patient that we serve front and center to how we make the decisions that the company takes every single day.

When we discover, develop and bring to market medicines and vaccines that help people live longer and healthier lives our communities are healthier, society is healthier, and we deliver both for our business and our shareholders, but also for society.

  • The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are a set of 17 directives to be completed by a 2030 deadline, with the aim of significantly improving quality of life for all people on Earth.
  • Pfizer's commitment to the UN's SDG #3, Good Health and Well-being, is exemplified by its mission to improve global health through a combination of local and global programs catalyzed by innovative health leaders.
  • In 1998, Pfizer embarked on a 22-year mission to eradicate trachoma by 2020.Trachoma is an infectious eye disease that can cause irreversible blindness or vision impairment. So far, it has been eradicated in six countries.
  • Pfizer is a committed partner in improving global health, helping to provide a number of critical cancer medications to six African countries where an estimated 44 percent of all cancer cases in sub-Saharan Africa occur each year

This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.

BepiColombo

Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

Learn the Netflix model of high-performing teams

Erin Meyer explains the keeper test and how it can make or break a team.

Videos
  • There are numerous strategies for building and maintaining a high-performing team, but unfortunately they are not plug-and-play. What works for some companies will not necessarily work for others. Erin Meyer, co-author of No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, shares one alternative employed by one of the largest tech and media services companies in the world.
  • Instead of the 'Rank and Yank' method once used by GE, Meyer explains how Netflix managers use the 'keeper test' to determine if employees are crucial pieces of the larger team and are worth fighting to keep.
  • "An individual performance problem is a systemic problem that impacts the entire team," she says. This is a valuable lesson that could determine whether the team fails or whether an organization advances to the next level.
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Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
She was walking down the forest path with a roll of white cloth in her hands. It was trailing behind her like a long veil.
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