Health­care is ‘Ev­ery­one’s Busi­ness’

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CSR and the Health­care Sys­tem

Health­care is in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked to sus­tain­able devel­op­ment; it is both a con­trib­u­tor to, and ben­e­fi­ciary of, the con­cept. Thus it can be un­der­stood that a healthy pop­u­la­tion is likely to be more pro­duc­tive, both stim­u­lat­ing and main­tain­ing a thriv­ing econ­omy. In turn, such an econ­omy is able to in­vest in, and up­hold, a qual­ity health­care sys­tem. This demon­strates the in­ter­de­pen­dency and in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity of sus­tain­able eco­nomic growth and high public health stan­dards. One method of pos­i­tively con­tribut­ing to this in­ter-de­pen­dent re­la­tion­ship is through the ever- in­creas­ing ap­pli­ca­tion of health­care to an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s CSR pro­gram. This change is re­flec­tive of an on­go­ing shift in the lo­ca­tion of health­care re­spon­si­bil­ity, which pre­vi­ously was more as­so­ci­ated with public health­care fa­cil­i­ties; now it is seen as the duty of the wider pop­u­la­tion. This tran­si­tion is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the change in fo­cus from treat­ment to pre­ven­tion. Rather than po­si­tion­ing the health­care sys­tem as solely an end provider in the treat­ment of poor health, the sys­tem is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing a proac­tive sup­porter of pre­ven­tion. Such a shift is im­por­tant in work­ing to min­imise the pres­sures on the health­care sec­tor, par­tic­u­larly in terms of costly clin­i­cal in­ter­ven­tions. To adopt this ap­proach, it is widely ac­cepted that it is es­sen­tial to un­der­stand the fac­tors that not only af­fect pop­u­la­tion health but also that af­fect the health­care sys­tem; this is where CSR re­ally comes to the fore. CSR, by def­i­ni­tion, is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of any or­gan­i­sa­tion, and of any sec­tor, to­wards so­ci­ety and the en­vi­ron­ment. As such, with in­creas­ing up­take of health-re­lated mat­ters in CSR poli­cies, a sit­u­a­tion is de­vel­op­ing whereby or­gan­i­sa­tions are di­rectly and in­di­rectly con­tribut­ing to health­care knowl­edge and ser­vice pro­vi­sion, through their own in­dus­try- spe­cific lens. With such multi-sec­tor en­gage­ment, the health­care in­dus­try is able to ben­e­fit from wide- rang­ing ex­per­tise and fore­cast­ing to strengthen the sys­tem against fu­ture chal­lenges. This in­creas­ing recog­ni­tion of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the econ­omy and the health­care sys­tem is shap­ing pol­icy at a num­ber of lev­els. As such, health- re­lated poli­cies are fea­tur­ing promi­nently in in­ter­na­tional ef­forts to pro­mote sus­tain­able devel­op­ment, with ex­am­ples in­clud­ing Agenda 21 and the Post 2015 Devel­op­ment Agenda. At the level of the cor­po­ra­tion, or­gan­i­sa­tions are iden­ti­fy­ing and act­ing upon the op­por­tu­ni­ties re­lated to im­prov­ing the health of their work­force and that of the lo­cal com­mu­nity. The in­creas­ing preva­lence of CSR and re­port­ing on such mat­ters is tes­ta­ment to this up­take, and the IRI, by in­cor­po­rat­ing an im­pact- ori­ented method­ol­ogy, is able to en­sure that the in­tended out­comes of a CSR pol­icy are re­alised. How ex­actly CSR is used to pur­sue a health ob­jec­tive varies by or­gan­i­sa­tion, and even within in­dus­tries there are vast dif­fer­ences in ap­proach. The pref­er­ence for health- re­lated CSR is largely in­flu­enced by the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s strengths and stake­holder in­ter­ests. Bank Mus­cat, for ex­am­ple, a fi­nan­cial ser­vices provider based in Oman, has cre­ated a CSR strat­egy which fo­cuses on em­ployee health and well-be­ing. With much ev­i­dence demon­strat­ing the added value of a healthy work­force to a com­pany and the lo­cal econ­omy, it is clear why the bank and so many other or­gan­i­sa­tions, have adopted this ap­proach. A multi-tiered pro­gram, the bank’s ini­tia­tive cov­ers the phys­i­cal and men­tal health of em­ploy­ees and their fam­i­lies, and is de­liv­ered through work­shops, ac­cess to re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties, fo­rums and gath­er­ings. The bank en­sures that it shares this vi­sion by host­ing var­i­ous con­fer­ences which serve to raise aware­ness and ex­change best prac­tice on de­vel­op­ing health­ier work­places. Other or­gan­i­sa­tions may align their health-re­lated CSR strate­gies with their own busi­ness op­er­a­tions, and this is an ef­fec­tive way of ap­ply­ing rel­e­vant and ex­pert knowl­edge to a chal­lenge. Bayer Health­care, a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany, has sup­ported a pro­gram aimed at teenagers in the King­dom of Saudi Ara­bia to raise aware­ness of di­a­betes – a dis­ease which is be­com­ing wide- spread in the re­gion. The com­pany also or­gan­ises round­table events which gather in­ter­na­tional au­di­ences to dis­cuss re­gional and global health-re­lated chal­lenges.

The sus­tain­able health­care vi­sion

To en­sure the im­pacts of dif­fer­ent strate­gies are re­alised and learned from – from the ed­u­cat­ing of a com­mu­nity on the ben­e­fits of a healthy lifestyle to dif­fer­en­tial pric­ing for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts in low or mid­dle-in­come coun­tries – it is es­sen­tial that these find­ings are com­mu­ni­cated. Ef­fec­tive re­port­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion by dif­fer­ent ac­tors in the health sys­tem and be­yond will yield a sub­stan­tial health-re­lated knowl­edge base and prompt joined-up think­ing across mul­ti­ple sec­tors. This joint ef­fort is nec­es­sary for progress to be shared and in­ter­na­tional stan­dards of best prac­tice met in this newly emerg­ing health net­work.

CSR Editor of Mid­dle East Busi­ness Mag­a­zine.

Founder and CEO of EMG, Daan is an ex­pe­ri­enced man­age­ment con­sul­tant spe­cialised in re­al­is­ing profit and growth through sus­tain­able devel­op­ment. He is a cer­ti­fied Cra­dle to Cra­dle con­sul­tant. He holds a Mas­ter’s de­gree from the Rot­ter­dam School of Man­age­ment. Named one of the '100 Most Tal­ented Lead­ers in CSR' by the World CSR Day or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Is­lamic Re­port­ing Ini­tia­tive (IRI): The IRI, a not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion, is aim­ing to cre­ate the first in­te­grated re­port­ing stan­dard for CSR based on Is­lamic prin­ci­ples and will en­able or­gan­i­sa­tions to in­clu­sively as­sess, re­port, ver­ify and cer­tify their CSR pro­grams. The IRI is invit­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions to col­lab­o­rate and lead in the devel­op­ment of the IRI, to en­sure rep­re­sen­ta­tion of lo­cal and sec­tor-spe­cific val­ues.

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