Last night during my evening workout I reflected while on the trend mill , two things occupied my thoughts:
- Proud– Proud is a GSK theme song that energizes me every time I hear it. Basically the central theme is “What have you done today to make you feel PROUD?”
- Change – One of the core principles of our PULSE program “Change employees”- how has my experience here in Vietnam changed me.
What is it that makes me proud to get up and go to work every day? Over the past 35 years there are many things and patient experiences but one thing stands out and it’s more about our industry. HIV/AIDS – just 30 years I vividly remember working in San Francisco Hospitals and seeing the countless patients with HIV. These patients were easily noticed because of a condition called Kaposi’s Sarcoma which caused a obvious red skin rash on patients faces. It was a very scary time as the incidence increased and there was not cure. In the 80’s AIDS was basically a death sentence. Through the research efforts of the NIH and pharmaceutical manufactures discoveries in (ARV) antiretroviral therapy began.
Fast forward to 2016, we now have multiple ARV treatment options and HIV/AIDS is now a managed a chronic condition. Patients are living normal productive lives with standard ARV therapy. This makes me Proud.
As I reflected I also realized that my experience here in Vietnam has changed me and my view of the WORLD. HIV/AIDS is a global problem. Today, six of the world’s seven billion people live in developing countries or emerging markets that may not have access to the advancements in ARV therapy like we do. Most of the developing countries cannot afford to cover the cost of standard ARV therapy. It was Nelson Mandela that inspired then President Bill Clinton to start the Clinton Foundation to help address the global issue of AIDS. South Africa was losing people to AIDS so fast that if not controlled they would virtually lose most of the work force. Through the efforts of NGO’s like the CHAI (Clinton Health Access Initiative) access to ARV treatment has increased significantly around the world.
One example of CHAI’s efforts here in Vietnam: in 2006 only 9% of children with HIV had access to treatment now 86% of children have access (one of the highest in the world). Our efforts continue to focus on HIV and TB which are the 2 leading causes of death due to infectious disease. My assignment has changed me in many ways and has expanded my horizons of why I am proud to do what I do every day.
If you are interested in hearing the “Proud” song here is a YouTube link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUEjT4rHvAA
Here are a few photos from a trip to Siem Reap –Cambodia we took last weekend. Siem Reap is famous for the 1000 year old temples including one of the 7 wonders of the world Angkor Wat.