Partnership in Fighting Non-Communicable Diseases
13 MARCH 2014,
March 13, 2014, Moscow — The Association of International Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (AIPM) together with the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) released the findings of an analytical research on corporate healthy lifestyle practices at Russian and global companies and provide recommendations on the development and implementation of such programs. The study was prepared with support of the National Research and Development Center for Preventive Medicine at the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP), in partnership with the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation.
The research entitled Recommendations on Development and Introduction of Corporate Healthy Lifestyle Programs for Employees contributes to a series of publications on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) initiated by AIPM and IFPMA1
NCD preventive efforts worldwide focus on curbing the main risk factors – tobacco use, the harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity. For each of these risk factors, successful strategies have been implemented in many countries: for instance, fiscal interventions have proved to be most efficient in fighting smoking and harmful use of alcohol; and mass media campaigns – in fighting physical inactivity and unhealthy diets. At the same time, to achieve full effect, comprehensive and coordinated measures are necessary. In this context, the potential of corporate programs to contribute to combating the main risk factors has been particularly underestimated. . This study reviews global and Russian practices in fighting the main risk factors of NCDs as well as recommendations for developing health programs both for corporate senior management and government.
AIPM conducted a wide-ranging 3-stage study that assessed the experience in setting up and implementing corporate HLPs in Russian companies, identified employee attitudes to as well as preferences for programs implemented.
Employees of 46 state-owned and private companies representative of the infrastructurally important sectors with the high employment levels participated in the study, including: manufacturing (Gazprom, Norilsk Nickel, RusHydro, Lukoil, etc.), wholesale and retail trade (IKEA, Azbuka Vkusa, Tander, etc.), real estate and construction (PIK Group of Companies etc.), communications and transport (Russian Railways, Megafon, Rostelecom, Mail.ru Group, etc.), education and healthcare (Kuban State University, Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University, etc.).
The survey suggested that most employers were ready to share responsibility for their employees’ health support (66% of respondents) but, at the same time, 24.4% of employers did not invest in their employees’ health protection and support. Arranging for sports events, vaccination and hot meals for employees are among the most popular corporate HLP initiatives.
The research also revealed that similar programs have the backing of employees. 100% of respondents supported company’s co-financing of sports activities and discounts for health nutrition, 94% – health screening. These are the main HLP initiatives at enterprises and they need to be supplemented by consulting and information-relation measures that are effective when employees understand the need to take care of their health.
The analysis and assessment of the data in the AIPM study led to a series of recommendations focused on setting up and implementation of corporate HLPs for employees, criteria to assess their efficiency, as well as a proposal for governmental support for corporate HLPs.
Enterprises implementing or planning HLPs in Russia are recommended to significantly expand the scope of efforts, tailor them to the nature of company’s type of production and the employee desires, plan efforts with the participation of employees, with the active engagement of corporate management and to regularly monitor and track the results. Success depends both on the company’s top management support and the personal motivation of each employee defined by implementing monetary and non-monetary incentives for participants in the programs. When unpopular measures are developed and implemented, it is necessary to explain why they need to be carried out and to generate positive attitude to them among employees.
Government support of corporate HLPs, both in Russia and worldwide, is a critical incentive for national labor force preservation, which in turn is essential for economic growth. The types of government assistance may vary – from direct co-financing of certain events to the provision of information, organizational and methodical assistance. Healthy lifestyle should not be promoted by the Ministry of Health only. Other authorities, including regional and municipal ones, as well as the population, public authorities, nonprofit entities should be actively involved in these activities.
“Statistically, the working population accounts for about a half of Russian population, with an average adult spending at least a third of his or her life at work. In this connection, corporate HLPs can be considered as one of the most promising tools in improving health and life quality of the Russia’s workforce. The experience of such programs of Russian and foreign companies needs to be more wide-spread and better adapted. Hopefully, employers will actively take up and engage in implementing similar programs, and the state, regional and municipal authorities, nonprofit companies and individuals will provide their support”, said Sergey Boytsov, Director, National Research and Development Center for Preventive Medicine at the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, Сhief specialist for preventive medicine of the Russian Ministry of Health.
“Corporate programs aimed at disease prevention and promoting healthy lifestyle are not only beneficial for employees, they are in the interest of employers. Governments will also benefit, most notably, through increased economic growth, reducing burden on budgets (incl. spending on healthcare) and the opportunity to re-allocate medical expenses to disadvantaged social groups. Naturally, the partnership between public authorities and the private sector in support of fighting NCDs will contribute to realization of existing great potential for health improvement in Russia,” noted Irina Dorokhova, Chair, AIPM NCD Task Force, Director for External and Corporate Relations in Russia and CEE, Johnson & Johnson.
“As most people spend more waking hours at work than anywhere else, these wellness programs are worthwhile, but to reap the benefits they need to be seen as long-term endeavors. Wellness in the workplace programmes do not exist in isolation and can be hugely helped by government prevention campaigns, which in return they can enhance. This current study underscores the potential benefits of new public-private collaborations that may achieve tangible results by mutually supportive prevention practices. This could be an area where Russia could pioneer a new approach”, emphasized Mario Ottiglio, Director, Public Affairs and Global Health Policy, IFPMA.
“Today’s RSPP represents more than one hundred industry and regional associations from the key economic sectors: fuel and energy, engineering, investment banking, defense industry, construction, chemical industry, light and food industry, and service industry. Currently, many Russian enterprises offer their employees (and in some cases, their families) different health programs. Naturally, this practice is vital. However, these programs are not evenly spread across our country, and there is a significant potential for expansion that we will actively seek to promote”, stated Victor Cherepov, Executive Vice President, RSPP.
“The Association of International Pharmaceutical Manufacturers has been an active participant of the discussion around NCD topic for a number of years. As part of the study conducted by the Association in 2011, we reviewed public perception of personal health in-depth. It was revealed that Russians value their health and are well aware of how it can be affected by the main risk factors for NCDs. However, there is a significant gap between the high value they attribute to health and their actual behaviors. In this subsequent cross-sector study, we focus on putting forward specific recommendations for fighting NCDs and supporting employee healthy lifestyles at the enterprises’ level. We hope the findings of the study will be widely recognized and supported within NCD prevention plans and strategies at different levels,” said Vladimir Shipkov, Executive Director, AIPM.