Each year, Sanofi recognizes successful activist projects at their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Awards. The objective of the CSR Awards competition is to recognize and reward projects that align with the company’s CSR strategy of supporting patients, ethics, people and planet.
One project from around the company is selected in each category, receiving a grant as an award for the association of their choice in their home country. A “Special Award” is given to the project that crosses all four areas and is awarded a larger grant.
This year, Sanofi Genzyme Pakistan was honored with this “Special Award” for their work on a project they called “From Darkness to Hope,” an effort to rally support for pediatric patients with lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) in Pakistan. Led by Sanofi Genzyme employees Dr. Ghufran Akhtar, Head of Operations, and Dr. Saba Abbasi, Medical Lead, the goal of the program is to improve diagnosis and access to therapy, and to raise awareness for these diseases.
Above, Gilles Lhernould and Ophra Rebiere with Ghufran Akhtar, center, winner of Sanofi’s 2016 Corporate Social Responsibility Awards for their “From Darkness to Hope” initiative.
The “From Darkness to Hope” campaign began in February 2015 in collaboration with the National LSD Core Committee, a group of prominent healthcare practitioners in Pakistan dedicated to raising awareness of and funds for children living with LSDs among their peers, government authorities, patient societies and hospitals.
As a result of this campaign, the diagnosis of LSDs has increased — In 2015, 65 patients were diagnosed in just nine months and 10 new Gaucher disease patients have started receiving treatment with the help of philanthropists and state-level funding. This represents a thirty-two percent increase in diagnosis and more than doubled the patients treated over the previous year. In short, the program is a major success. “We are honored to be recognized, and excited about the hope this program can bring to patients in our region,” Ghufran said. “In the future, Sanofi Genzyme will continue to raise awareness about LSDs so that no case goes undetected, and will seek to ensure funding for patients to receive treatment.”
Access to treatment and disease management are very difficult in Pakistan, an out-of-pocket market where less than 5% of the population is covered by health insurance. Until Sanofi Genzyme set up operations in the country in 2013, most patients were misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, as diagnostic facilities for rare diseases were nonexistent.
The award money granted for the “From Darkness to Hope” project will be donated to Indus Hospital, one of the most renowned charitable hospitals in Pakistan. According to the hospital, the donation will be used to support the treatment of patients in need.