LS1 Lunch session : Merck – Health Empowerment: Providing the tools to make informed health decisions

LS1 Lunch session : Merck – Health Empowerment: Providing the tools to make informed health decisions

Invited Session
Location: Room 3 Date: April 19, 2016 Time: 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm


An estimated 1.3 billion people have no access to effective and affordable health care. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), developing countries bear 93% of the world´s disease burden, yet account for only 18% of world income and 11% of global health spending.[i] Providing access to health in these countries is a complex and multifaceted challenge with no one-size-fits all solutions.

Health empowerment is a critical component of the health process that focuses on “purposefully participating in a process of changing oneself and one’s environment, recognizing patterns, and engaging inner resources for wellbeing.” [ii] In effect, health empowerment facilitates “awareness of the ability to participate knowingly in health and healthcare decisions.”[iii]

While there is a need for health empowerment throughout the world, developing countries, in particular, are in urgent need. Many countries face a scarcity of trained health care professionals. The WHO has set a minimum critical threshold of 22.8 health professionals per 10,000 people but around 83 countries do not currently meet this standard.[iv] Thirty-six of the fifty seven countries with severe shortages are in Africa, six are in South East Asia and seven are in the Eastern Mediterranean.[v]

The WHO Human Resources for Health (HRH) workforce strategy 2030 highlights that health workers are a central feature of well-functioning health systems.[vi] However, the contributions of health workers towards improved health outcomes is dependent on their availability as well as their accessibility and capacity to delivery acceptable and quality services.

As epidemiological trends continue to evolve with chronic diseases increasingly prevalent, it is important that health workers and patients are properly trained with the appropriate knowledge and skills to tackle these diseases. Chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), are the primary cause of death and disability worldwide. NCDs account for 68% of global mortality and nearly three-fourths of NCD deaths occur in developing countries.[vii]

To address these access challenges, Merck leverages its core competencies and expertise across the health value chain through its Access to Health (A2H) strategy, known as the “Four As of Access”: Availability, Affordability, Awareness and Accessibility. Through our Awareness efforts we aim to empower public and private health workers, patients and partners, with appropriate tools and information towards quality and informed decision making.

This year’s Geneva Health Forum (GHF) focus on sustainable and affordable innovations in healthcare is an opportunity to demonstrate how private sector partners, such as the pharmaceutical industry, can be a global health partner in providing health solutions which go “beyond the pill.”




ID Title of the presentation Name of the speaker Organisation Country

Welcome and Introduction

Dr. Frédérique Santerre

Global Head Access to Health, Merck

Global Strategy on Human Resources for Health: Workforce 2030

James Campbell

Global Health Workforce Alliance and Director, Health Workforce Department, World Health Organization


Merck Global Medical Education Strategy

Professor Dr. med. Steven K. Hildemann

SVP, Chief Medical Officer, Head Global Medical Affairs and Global Drug Safety, Merck


Benefits & Value of Medical Education: Patient advocacy group perspective

Margaret Walker

Former CEO, European Liver Patients Association (ELPA), Director MWACM Ltd


Panel discussion

With the participation of Dr. Antoine Flahault

Director of the Institute of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva



[i]                  Denis Drechsler and Johannes Jütting, Private Health Insurance for the Poor in Developing Countries? 2005

[ii]                 NBC Shearer, PG Reed,”Empowerment: Reformulation of a non-Rogerian concept, ”Nursing Science Quarterly, 2004;17:253–259.

[iii]                 NBC Shearer, “Health Empowerment Theory as a Guide for Practice,” Geriatric Nursing, 2009, Mar-Apr; 20 (2): 4-10.


[v]                 WHO, Scaling up health workforce production: a concept paper towards the implementation of World Health Assembly Resolution WHA59.23, 2007

[vi]                WHO, Global strategy on resources for health: Workforce 2030,” January 2016.

[vii]                NCD Alliance.