India is part of an initiative by multinational biopharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb to advance health equity.

BMS said the $1.8-million health equity grant initiative addresses the social determinants of health in four countries with underserved patient needs — namely Brazil, India, Thailand, and the UK.

The grant is an extension of the company’s long-term commitment to invest $150 million in health equity by 2025, it added.

The grant will support eight organisations addressing the root causes of inequities to deliver a lasting impact at the community level, BMS said, adding they were selected in countries with underserved communities living with cancer and blood disorders. Based on the outcome of this pilot programme, BMS would consider expansion to other geographies and communities to remove systemic barriers to care, it added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines social determinants of health as non-medical factors that influence health outcomes, including income and social status, education, physical environment, social support networks, genetics, health services and gender. Cari Gallman, BMS Executive Vice President (Corporate Affairs), said that access remains a significant challenge for many patients and the social determinants of health present barriers to people attaining their full potential for health and well-being.

Indian grantees

The two grantees in India are the Gabriel Project (Mumbai), which creates innovative and comprehensive solutions to treat sickle cell anaemia and oral cancer among underserved tribal villages; and West Bengal’s Liver Foundation, whichwas chosen for training rural healthcare providers to be advocates, referral points and drop-out counsellors at the grassroots level and align them with public health linkages for the prevention of hepatocellular carcinoma in rural Indian communities, BMS said.

The other organisations chosen for the grant are: Brazil’s Instituto Lado a Lado pela Vida (servingrural population and patients with cancer) and The Instituto Oncoguia (trainingnon-medical people on cancer information and care); Thailand’s Foundation for Education and Development (working to improve prevention and primary care in Burmese migrant communities living close to the southern border with Myanmar); and the UK’s Patients Association (which aims to bridge the gap between social care and healthcare, and improving access to quality care for underserved populations); Blood Cancer UK (aimed at reducing inequality in clinical trial recruitment for people from ethnic minority communities with blood cancer); and The Less Survivable Cancer Taskforce (throughPancreatic Cancer UK, working to ensure governments and health services commit to concrete actions for less survivable cancers, with the goal of doubling survival rates over the next decade), the BMS note said.