Healthcare news round-up (Issue 92)

March 30, 2007

Healthcare news round-up (Issue 92)

March 30 2007

by Briefing staff

Drinks manufacturers join to increase awareness of responsible drinking, and Vodafone Group Foundation funds the extension of the Measles initiative

Combat malnutrition

The IBLF has stated that private sector involvement is essential to stamp out malnutrition and make progress to reaching the Millennium Development Goal of tackling the crisis of malnutrition.

A new report by the International Business Leaders Forum – Business as a Partner in Overcoming Malnutrition: An Agenda for Action – not only outlines the need to tackle this growing global issue, but also reports a clear business case for company action.

It suggests that fortified foods provide opportunities for value addition and that economies of scale would also lower prices and increase numbers of customers reached.

The report further uses examples from companies such as Sodexho and Unilever to strengthen its argument.

Contact – Jack Whelan, 020 7467 3644,

Sensible drinking

The Portman Group, a consortium of drinks manufacturers, is backing a £12m advertising initiative to promote sensible and responsible drinking among consumers. The group, which includes Scottish & Newcastle, Diageo, Carlsberg and Inbev – which owns Stella Artois – has partnered with Drinkaware, a charity that aims to improve the public understanding of drinking alcohol responsibly. The alliance between the two organisations will launch a major marketing scheme that involves Drinkaware messages featuring on three billion bottles and cans as well as on £150m worth of television, film and print advertising in 2007. The money will also be used to promote and display the Drinkaware consumer information website ( and messages in pubs and supermarkets.

Contact – The Portman Group, 020 7907 3700,; Drinkaware Trust, 020 7307 7450,

Oxfam, Fairpensions campaign against pharma

Pharmaceutical companies must stop blocking access to affordable medicines for poor people in developing countries. Companies such as Novartis are under pressure by pension fund managers as a result of a campaign by Oxfam and FairPensions, which have urged members of pension funds and other institutional investors to send letters to the organisations urging them to place pressure on pharmaceutical companies. The letters call for access to medicines is made easier for poor people and is not hampered by patent protection. Novartis is challenging patent law in India and if the company wins the case, according to Oxfam, “countless medicines available cheaply to poor people could be patented and priced out of reach”. The letter outlines the potential damage the action could have on future returns from pharmaceutical investments, due to the impact it would have on Novartis’ reputation.

Contact – Duncan Exley, campaigners manager, Fairpensions, 020 7403 7800,; Oxfam, 0870 333 2700,

Measles initiative

Vodafone Group Foundation and the UN Foundation are to extend the Measles Initiative set up in 1999 to begin global measles immunisation coverage. Figures released by the public-private partnership report that measles deaths have fallen by 60% since 1999, exceeding United Nations goals to half measles deaths from 1999-2005. Now, the two organisations are to work with the World Health Organisation to find ways to improve recording and sharing of public health data on measles and other diseases throughout Africa, using communications technologies. This improvement of disease surveillance is thought to be a critical aspect in fighting devastation caused by diseases such as measles.

Contact – The Vodafone Group Foundation,; UN Foundation, 001 202 887 9040,