"Bayer Cares For People" – TB project in Moldova
Welcome seminar in Große Ledder/Leverkusen
Bayer HealthCare and the Bayer Cares Foundation have initiated the second round of the program “Bayer Cares For People.” An internationally staffed team of Bayer talents and volunteers has been put together to tackle the challenge of fighting tuberculosis in Moldova. The objective is to find a way for Bayer HealthCare, as a leading global healthcare company, to contribute by improving patients’ compliance with TB treatment. Ten employees from different parts and countries of the global BHC organization, whose day-to-day responsibilities are not necessarily connected with tuberculosis, will work cooperatively on the challenge. The idea behind this approach is to combine talent management, volunteering and corporate social responsibility in order to enhance BHC’s existing involvement in the field of tuberculosis. The TB project in Moldova is the second BCFP project and follows “Bayer Fights Chagas,” which was launched in 2010.
The task: Improve compliance with TB treatment
In a first phase of the TB project, the ten team members from Germany, Moldova, the United States, Italy and Romania met for the first time at a three-day welcome workshop in Große Ledder and Leverkusen in order to learn more about TB and the situation relating to TB in Moldova. In addition to listening to several presentations on the disease situation worldwide, and in Moldova in particular, the team had a first working session to outline key points for their further research and initial ideas for a concept to enhance the adherence of Moldovan TB patients to treatment. They received advice and support from experts from Caritas Luxembourg and AFI, a local Moldovan NGO. The criteria that the concept has to meet are quite demanding: it has to be tailored to BHC’s expertise in the field of TB, it has to be sustainable, self-financed, and should also have a model character. In order to get a clearer picture of the real situation of TB patients in the country, the team will go on a one-week research trip to Moldova’s capital Chisinau at the end of October. “The Bayer Cares For People program is an opportunity to show that people can make an important contribution to society and that every single person can make a difference. That's why Bayer suports employees who have decided to dedicate their time and effort to tasks directly oriented towards social needs,” said Bayer Labour Director Dr. Richard Pott, who visited the team.
Tuberculosis is a serious disease. It is a global pandemic which ranks second only to HIV as the leading infectious killer of adults worldwide. The Republic of Moldova is one of the countries in which the situation is extremely poor. It ranks third for incidence rate in Europe. One of the main problems is the dramatically increased rate of multi-resistant tuberculosis cases among new infections and those requiring re-treatment. One reason for the emergence of resistant strains of bacillus is poor adherence to first-line treatment, which lasts around six months. However, only if patients complete treatment successfully can the tuberculosis pandemic be contained. “Tuberculosis is a significant burden for Moldova, so something needs to be done. With this project, you can make a small but significant contribution to improving the situation. I believe that this is a good exercise not only for the company but for every one of you,” said BHC CEO Dr. Jörg Reinhardt.
Making a sustainable impact
One obstacle which the BHC talents and volunteers must overcome is patients’ suspicion of the treatment procedure. In order to fulfill the four criteria implicit in the challenge, the team needs to work hand in hand with local NGOs and Moldovan authorities. “It’s about making a sustainable impact,” explained BHC project coordinator Tobias Rockel. Not so much for the team members and BHC as the patron of the project, but rather for the people suffering from tuberculosis. “Commitment to society is a long-term investment,” stated Thimo Schmitt-Lord, responsible for Foundation & Donations Management at Bayer. “This project is a great contribution to our approach of supporting the social involvement of our employees.”
Time is of the essence, as the number of people affected by TB and the death toll in Moldova have been rising in recent years. On their research trip to the Republic of Moldova the team will visit a prison, talk to TB patients and interview doctors to get a better impression of what patients need to help them stick to their treatment. On this basis, they will develop their concept which they will present to the BHC Executive Committee in the first quarter of 2013 in order to get an approval to fund the implementation of the concept.
at 9:50 am