06.16.15 By Sanofi Le Hub
June 16 – the Day of the African Child – is an important day on the international calendar. It’s also an important day for Sanofi – the company has strong ties with the continent, being active in 51 countries and manufacturing from seven local plants.
As many as 60% of the products the company distributes in Africa are manufactured on the continent, and the company hopes to increase this to 80% over the coming years.
The Day of the African Child commemorates the day in 1976 when thousands of black children took to the streets of Soweto in South Africa to demand better access to education under the apartheid regime.
It was introduced by the African Union (then the Organisation of African Unity) in 1991 to not only remember the events of that day, but to also highlight the work being done to promote the rights of children in Africa. It also focuses on removing the obstacles that prevent children from reaching their full potential.
Education and healthcare are inseparable – to improve access to opportunity and education, healthcare initiatives need to be in place to ensure a healthy young population.
Children are a priority because they are so important to Africa’s future, as well as to global prosperity. More than 40% of Africa’s population is under 15 years of age – that’s 400 million children, or one in four of the world’s children.
Yet Africa’s infant mortality rate is still too high, accounting for more than half the number of people who die during childhood worldwide.
From its core activities to its Corporate Social Responsibility commitments, Sanofi is working to help improve access to healthcare for children in Africa. In fact, Sanofi’s portfolio covers almost half of the medicines and vaccines included on the World Health Organization’s essential list for children.
Sanofi’s Pediatrics initiative, called ‘Healthy Children, Happy Children’ – launched on the Day of the African Child in 2012 – is just one project that highlights the company’s commitment to child healthcare initiatives across the continent.
Its three core objectives are to provide children with access to healthcare, to promote and facilitate training for healthcare professionals, and to promote general awareness of child health initiatives and challenges in the community.
The program covers the African continent with initiatives such as a dedicated website for French speaking healthcare professionals, or the organization of an expert committee with pediatric specialist from 6 different countries. The program also aims at improving the day-to-day lives of children via the opening of six « Fun centers », dedicated fun and play areas within Children’s Hospital in West Africa.
Meanwhile, Sanofi’s ‘Schoolchildren Against Malaria’ program is active in 15 African countries, providing teachers with a range of educational tools designed to raise awareness of the disease.
It focuses on improving education about and awareness of malaria, which remains one of the key global healthcare challenges, killing one child every minute in Africa.
In Niger alone, some 50 schools are taking part in the ‘Schoolchildren Against Malaria’ program, with 5,000 children using their new-found knowledge of malaria to help educate their families and their wider communities about malaria, its treatment and prevention.
Other areas of focus for Sanofi in Africa that affect children and their families include improving tuberculosis screening and treatment, fighting neglected tropical diseases, diagnosing diabetes and hypertension, eliminating sleeping sickness, and supporting people who have rare diseases.
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