I’m going to admit from the start that this post is self-serving.
I have been with GSK for over 2 decades and I know the company is not perfect. There are corporate frustrations inherent at GSK, just as there are inherent frustrations in any large company. However, I believe GSK deserves credit where credit is due. Among other things, GSK and ViiV Healthcare deserve credit for licensing HIV anti-retroviral medications to allow use in low-resource countries. GSK deserves credit for the quantity of vaccines provided to UNICEF. GSK deserves credit for the PULSE program.
While working with Partners in Health/Inshuti Mu Buzima in Rwanda, I’ve had an opportunity to meet with Ministry of Health officials and with individuals from other NGOs. When I describe the PULSE program and the fact that GSK allows PULSE volunteers to support an NGO for up to six months, the response is always the same. People are impressed by GSK’s willingness to provide staff for a time period that can truly make a difference. I was told that other companies provide volunteers to NGOs, but that these volunteers are normally short-term (e.g. 2-4 weeks). The feeling from NGO staff is that, while they appreciate the volunteer help, short-term volunteers have difficulty making an impact on a project unless the project is short term. It takes time to understand the problem an NGO is trying to address, the people and communities impacted by the problem and it takes time to build the systems and processes designed to combat the problem. The PULSE program donates people for an extended period to NGOs so those NGOs can make a difference. The PULSE program is different. I’m not aware of any other Pharmaceutical company with a similar program.
If more corporations were willing to provide more skilled employees to social service organization for more extended periods, who knows what the results would be. GSK deserves credit where credit is due.