Launch of Swiss pharmaceutical industry Novartis Access Initiative Kenya

Position, 15.10.2015

Remarks at the Launch of Swiss pharmaceutical industry Novartis Access Initiative in Kenya by Dr. Ralf Heckner, Ambassador of Switzerland to Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda, on Thursday, 15 October 2015, 10:00 a.m., Kenyatta National Hospital 

Cabinet Secretary of Health, Mr. James Macharia,

Chairman of the Board of Directors of Novartis, Dr. Joerg Reinhardt,

Chairman Health and Biotechnology Committee of the Council of Governors, His Excellency Jack Ranguma,

Honorable Dr. James Nyikal from the Parliamentary Health Council,

Chief Executive Officer of Kenyatta National Hospital, Ms. Lily Koros,

Secretary General of Kenya Red Cross Society, Dr. Abbas Gullet,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning. Let me say, first of all, that it is an honour to be here among such important national and global health players.

Today’s event makes us understand that in order to improve healthcare, we all have to work together: The public and private sectors, as well as national and international institutions. In other words, it requires bilateral and multilateral cooperation; it requires Public Private Partnership.

Today’s launch of Novartis’ Access Initiative, which aims to provide low-cost drugs for non-communicable diseases in Kenya, is important to Switzerland on three levels.

I start with the multilateral level, the United Nations. Switzerland and Kenya are U.N. members and thanks to the leadership of the Kenyan Permanent Representative to the U.N. in New York, the General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals. I would like to commend the Kenyan government for this diplomatic success. One of those Sustainable Development Goals, which are crucial for the future of our planet, is to "ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages". This means supporting the research and development of medicines and providing access to affordable essential medicines. You will now understand why Novartis’ Initiative is called "Access". You will also understand that today’s event has a direct link to the implementation of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, which Switzerland and Kenya adopted this September in New York. It goes without saying, that this event is the first step on a long road to 2030.

Let me move from New York to Switzerland, specifically, to Geneva. The World Health Organisation is based there and has a crucial role to play when it comes to global health. Any global health crisis that occurs is dealt with from the WHO Geneva headquarters. And there are other global health players in Switzerland: The pharmaceutical industry, which is mainly based in Basel, has been a pillar of Switzerland’s economy for a very long time, generating approximately six percent of Switzerland’s GDP. With our strong links to the pharmaceutical industry, and with two Swiss pharmaceutical industries ranked in the top ten worldwide – Novartis is one of them –, Switzerland has become a hub for health research and innovation.

Today’s launch of Novartis’ Access Initiative is good news for Swiss-Kenyan bilateral relationships and as Ambassador of Switzerland to Kenya, I am pleased to see Novartis’ interest in cooperating with the Kenyan health authorities. But we are also here today because health is a personal priority of Her Excellency, the First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta. Good and productive bilateral relations are based on mutual interest. When it comes to health, Switzerland and Kenya work hand in hand.

I would like to wrap up:

Firstly: Switzerland as a U.N. member state, as host country of the World Health Organisation, and with its vibrant pharmaceutical industry, is going to be an active player for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

Secondly, Switzerland, together with the Kenyan authorities and the private sector, will work hard to make this planet a better place.

Last, but not least, today’s event and Novartis’ Initiative will further deepen our bilateral relationship.

I look forward to the implementation of Novartis’ Access Initiative.

Thank you for your attention.