Healthcare, Policy and Advocacy Walk into a Bar
In this panel discussion, four healthcare professionals discuss their experiences with patient advocacy groups and how they attempt to serve underrepresented communities and difficult-to-reach populations.
Kimberly Smith of ViiV Healthcare explains the importance of including advocacy groups in the developmental stages of their HIV prevention and treatment medications. Connecting with these communities is key to ensuring that medicines reach patients around the world, regardless of their ability to pay. The company ensures the innovation it brings with our medicines gets to patients worldwide.
Eric Troy Pena of Northwell Health explains how global health is about advocacy at its heart. They work to support stakeholders in different countries that are already doing great work and help them advocate for resources and attention.
Deborah Glasser of Sanofi speaks on the importance of advocacy in reaching communities with historically low vaccination rates, and how partnership with government bodies and local communities play a vital role in their approach.
Rebecca Bagley of the Kennedy Forum discusses how advocacy drove system changes in mental health. She stressed upon the importance of grassroots movements and activism in pushing for systemic change and cited the need for big, ambitious goals to motivate people towards action.
The panelists acknowledged that while every drug company would like to enroll minority community members for research, reaching them is often a challenge due to lack of diverse investigators, financial incentives, and a lack of commitment to diversity. They recommended a focus on community-based research and increased inclusivity in studies and changes in the regulatory environment.
The need for diverse leadership, innovative approaches, stronger data and regulatory changes were cited as key to reaching marginalized communities. The panelists advocated for science-based policy making and the use of innovative healthcare solutions like telehealth, stressing on the idea of making mistakes and quickly learning from them for progress, and inclusivity and diversity in research studies. It was pointed out that mental health is a spectrum rather than a binary state, and renewed attention should be brought towards community-level mental health initiatives as well as policy-level changes.