CSR can be leveraged for better health care, says Ruchi Sogarwal, DGM-South Asia, PerkinElmer

“There is a critical need for implementation science to help improve the packaging and delivery of programs for different population groups in different contexts. We believe that CSR can be a catalyst to provide affordable health care models that can be scaled up from pilot to public”, said Ruchi Sogarwal, DGM-South Asia, PerkinElmer, India to Rusen Kumar, Editor, India CSR. Excerpts of an Interview:

Introduce PerkinElmer’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

Our mission to innovate for a healthier world guides everything we do – from how we conduct our business to the way we engage the communities we serve. Sustainability is one of the cornerstones of our mission, and we continue to look for creative ways to increase our sustainable impact, while also enhancing our volunteerism. As active corporate citizens, our colleagues around the globe hold a steadfast commitment to improving outcomes in our communities together. Our approach to corporate social responsibility is driven by three pillars: Community impact, Eco-innovative products, and Sustainable and ethical business practices.

Through volunteerism and strategic philanthropic partnerships, we team up with each other and with our customers and the community to make a difference around the globe. For example, during our most recent annual global Impact Day, we volunteered over 9,500 hours to 75 organizations in 20 countries in support of our four focus areas of disease research, food safety, newborn health and the environment: Collected over 50 bags of items for those suffering from blood disease, Packed/sorted/distributed over 90,000 pounds of food to families in need, Screened over 200 newborn babies and cleared over 10,000 pounds of trash from rivers and parks.

How do CSR manager look at healthcare projects in current CSR ecosystem?

I think in today’s world, there is a lot of uncertainty in the ecosystem. A solution for this uncertainty is ‘adaptability’- based on the changing needs of the community in a holistic and integrated manner.  The CSR heads/manager should look at the healthcare projects not as a ‘standalone’ demonstration project but as an ‘integrated’ solution within the existing framework of the policy or health infrastructure. And, there should be a ‘process’ evaluation of the intervention, in addition to impact evaluation, to investigate the understanding of system dynamics and failures that promote or inhibit implementation.

Since India is a country with a great deal of diversity, which varies by region, a solution that may be successful in one region may not be successful in another. So while planning the CSR healthcare projects, CSR heads/managers should look into those contextual conditions.

What is the significance of community experiences from the ground in policy making and how do we incorporate community need-based interventions into the policy?

I strongly recommend that the ‘community interventions’ should be seen as our own ‘laboratories’ in the policy making. Policies framed based on the community experiences are more accepted and effective. There are various proven examples available from community/non-profit experiences such as – ‘peer group intervention in HIV prevention, ‘safe space concept for adolescent sexual health issues,’ and ‘technology use to improve healthcare providers’ efficiency.’, etc. The major challenge of the community’s needs-based interventions is poor documentation or lack of evidence. Because of that, such experiences are not adequately incorporated into policy. However, in the recent times, due to support of development partners such community based practices are documented and independently evaluated, so they can be available for replication of the ‘implementation models’.           

How CSR can be a catalyst to provide affordable healthcare models that can be scaled up from pilot to public?

In an era where our Indian healthcare system has begun to shift from a “sick care system” to one focused on “prevention and wellness” with an expanded healthcare coverage offered by the National Health Policy, 2017; CSR can be a catalyst, primarily on three affordable healthcare models: (1) emphasizing the capacity of primary health care services to provide high-quality early screening, timely referral, and care management of specialty services, especially for behavior based health problems;  (2) health promotion and disease prevention throughout the health system and within the community; and (3) focused attention on the health service needs of ‘at-risk’ or ‘vulnerable’ population. One of the important aspects of the scale up of the successful pilot to the public is the ‘partnerships’ of Public health researchers and primary health care physicians from inception or planning stage to execution and evaluation, and to further expansion.

How do we look at collaboration as a key and strengthen the existing government set up to solve problems and challenges step by step?

India has a very large and diverse population, and as a multi-burden country, it is not only confronted by a spectrum of health problems but also by the patterns of diseases remarkably differ between the North and the South of the country. Hence there is a critical need for ‘implementation science’ to help improve the packaging and delivery of programs for different population groups in different contexts.

Government and funders including CSR/Philanthropic are realizing the importance of investing in newborn and adolescents for future socioeconomic development of the country. Though there are strategic and operational guidelines available based on the ‘effective’ models within the country or elsewhere. However, the key is to implement those interventions in a stepwise manner considering the local context including socio-economic, epidemiological conditions and risk factors etc. So, collaboration between Government and CSR/philanthropic should focus to investigate within real-life programs that include solutions about the ways an intervention should be delivered or implemented for improving health. For example, PerkinElmer can provide comprehensive end-to-end solutions in an integrated manner within the existing healthcare system for setting up a newborn screening program, which is based on the robust science and evidence. We offer to undertake or facilitate joint initiatives with governments in a stepwise manner connecting all healthcare fragments, i.e. from promotion and prevention to longterm management and care. More specifically,

  1. Skills to deliver ‘essential’ and ‘advanced’ healthcare interventions
  2. Technology use to address the accessibility issues
  3. Recording and reporting solution
  4. Support in evidence generation/synthesis for refinement and scale up plan.

Likewise, we can also provide water, food and air detection and analytical solutions.

About Dr. Ruchi Sogarwal: Dr. Ruchi Sogarwal is a professional in health and development sector for more than a decade, having a special focus on reproductive health and infectious diseases. She is currently working as Deputy General Manager-South Asia; PerkinElmer leads public policy matters of the company. In the past, she worked in national programs under Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, and also led various CSR/philanthropy supported demonstration projects. She is PhD in Epidemiology and Executive Global Business Management from IIM. She has more than 40 publications and member of various editorial and scientific committees of national and international bodies.

About PerkinElmer, Inc.: PerkinElmer, Inc. is a global leader committed to innovating for a healthier world. Our dedicated team of 9,000 employees worldwide is passionate about providing customers with an unmatched experience as they help solve critical issues, especially impacting the diagnostics, discovery and analytical solutions markets. Our innovative detection, imaging, informatics and service capabilities, combined with deep market knowledge and expertise, help customers gain earlier and more accurate insights to improve lives and the world around us.
Since 1981, PerkinElmer has offered instruments and services to customers in India, spanning a wide range of markets, including diagnostics, pharmaceutical, food safety, agriculture, chemical, plastics and automotive. The Company established direct operations in India in 2004 and currently has more than 6,000 customers and 1,700 employees in India.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the interviewee in this feature are entirely her own and does not necessarily reflect the views of India CSR Network and its Editor.

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