Last week I had the opportunity to attend a celebration of the continuing partnership between GSK and AMREF at the Dagoretti Child Development and Training Center in Nairobi. This partnership was established in 1988 through the Friends of AMREF with Andrew Bulloch, CEO of GSK at the time, as one of the founding members. Over the past 25 years, GSK has provided unrestricted funding to AMREF for various projects throughout Africa to help reduce child mortality by 40 percent, community prevention of malaria, improvement of women’s health, and the establishment of the Personal Hygiene and Sanitation Education (PHASE) program just to name a few.
This celebration was attended by John Musunga, GSK Regional CEO for East Africa, Samara Hammond, AMREF UK CEO, who shared a film with the audience about the 25 year partnership between GSK an AMREF, British High Commissioner H E Dr Christian Turner, and several other members of AMREF and the Kenyan Ministry of Health.
Besides the usual speeches, entertainment was provided by the children at the Dagoretti Child Development Center with some plays and by their Jua Kali Drummers. This group also had some dancers who were very lively and even got a Mzungu like me involved in their dances.
The partnership between GSK and AMREF continues to remain strong after 25 years. In 2010 GSK sent the first group of PULSE volunteers to lend their expertise to AMREF in support of its various programs throughout Africa. In 2012, GSK sent 6 volunteers to AMREF in Kenya, and in 2013 there are 5 volunteers working with AMREF on 6 month assignments. There are 2 volunteers based at the AMREF Headquarters in Nairobi, 2 volunteers at AMREF’s location in Tanzania, and 1 volunteer located at the Southern Africa office. For 2014, AMREF is looking to continue its partnership with the PULSE program at GSK, and has given positive feedback on the volunteers back to GSK.
In 2011, GSK launched a new initiative in Africa where it will reinvest 20 percent of its profits from sales within Africa back into strengthening the health systems of these developing countries. AMREF is assisting GSK with this initiative by building the capacity of Frontline Health Workers in the least developed countries in East and Southern Africa for at least the next 5 years.
Since 1988 the GSK and AMREF partnership has transformed health for over 1.75 million people in Africa. I may have only contributed to a small part of this partnership, but I am proud that I have been able to contribute to this partnership.