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Max Foundation FB Live

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[Valentina Jaramillo] Hi, everyone. I’m Valentina Jaramillo, and we are here in Uganda with The Max Foundation Last Mile event. Novartis is really pleased to partner with The Max Foundation in giving support to give access to treatment to patients in Uganda and other lower middle income countries. I’m joined by Geoff Cook, our head of patient advocacy in Novartis, and Pat Garcia-Gonzalez, co-founder and CEO of The Max Foundation. So, Geoff, getting access to treatment for patients is vital. How do you think we can continue to expand access to treatment for patients in countries in Africa and other lower middle income countries? [Geoff Cook] You know, we’ve had a really exciting few days here in Uganda, meeting with a lot of physician leaders, patient leaders, and folks from industry who are supporting initiatives to help patients get access. So, on this continent in lower income countries, I think there’s a couple of things that we really need to do. First, we need to think globally. You know, our business and our success is often driven by certain markets, but we need to think about how can we make our products useful in all environments in all countries and make them more publicly available and kind of have that global view of the challenges that countries that may have less resources. Second, I think what we’re doing now is we’re understanding the unmet needs really deeply. And when we understand those needs we can develop solutions with our partners to make a difference. So, I think if we take that perspective it can really change access in countries that have lower income healthcare resources. [Valentina Jaramillo] Thanks. So, giving access to medicine, to patients, it’s not just about giving free medicine. It takes a lot of unforeseen efforts to patients to get that access, especially that last mile. For some patients it means walking up to or even more than 450 kilometers to reach their treatment and that’s why we’re here for The Last Mile. So, Pat, what impact are you hoping to achieve from activities like The Last Mile event? [Pat Garcia-Gonzalez] Thank you, Valentina. First, I want to say hi to all the Novartis friends. We’re super excited to be here. I think all day today we have been listening to each other and I think that’s what I really wanted when I thought about today. I really wanted to make sure that we all came together and learned from each other, understand the problems of the region, and really understand what can we do together to improve the treatment for CML and other cancers in Uganda and other places in Africa. [Valentina Jaramillo] Thanks, Pat. Geoff, why is it so important for Novartis to be here with The Max Foundation? [Geoff Cook] Well, The Max Foundation has been our partner for 15 years. We’ve helped tens of thousands of patients together and we’ve learned so much. We’ve reached a stage where I think we’ve all realized we need to, as The Max Foundation is describing, we need to turn the page and go into a new chapter and really try to do even more. And we’re creating an opportunity for things like CML Path to Care where we’ve rethought how we provide access to our CML medicines and realized what does Novartis have to offer, what do we do best, and what does our partner, The Max Foundation, do best, and realigned around that approach so that each of us can drive the change in these countries that we hope to achieve. [Valentina Jaramillo] So, we hear a lot about access and access and during this short process we’ve already mentioned it several times. Pat, what does access to treatment mean to you? [Pat Garcia-Gonzalez] Access to treatment to me means hope. It means access to hope. I think that I have said before, you know, I think one of the worst things you can hear in your life, first is to hear that somebody in your family has cancer. But the second that is really the most horrible thing is to know that there’s a treatment but because of the place where you are you cannot have it. So, I have learned through my years of advocacy, I have to remind myself that I am not God. Sometimes we give something, everything to a patient and it’s still not enough. But the most important thing is to know that you’re doing everything you can for your loved one. And so when you give access to treatment, you’re giving access to hope. And the other thing that is very important to me is giving access to dignity. You know, it’s so fast that you lose your dignity when you become a patient. And I think that with the work we’re doing together with Novartis, we have ensured that people can go through their cancer journey with dignity. So, and my last piece is that really I think access to treatment is access to life. [Valentina Jaramillo] Thank you. Very powerful words. After being here sharing with the group of advocates and physicians and government that we’ve been hearing during the past three days, I feel super inspired. I feel really happy and excited about my job and about being part of this mission to help patients all over the world with access to treatment. I think I will go home wanting to work even harder to contribute to this mission. That’s my personal takeaway. Geoff, what is your takeaway from this year, from these days? [Geoff Cook] Everything you just said. Yeah, I mean, we’re leaving here, and we’re here for a couple more days seeing even more amazing things. It’s an absolutely beautiful country with beautiful people. And I’m really struck by the ingenuity of all these folks working together. Basically don’t have the resources that we’re accustomed to in many of the countries that we go to work in, in Western Europe, in the United States, but they figure out a way. They are dedicated and passionate and they don’t want to give up. And it could, we could learn a lot from the sort of ingenuity and ideas that when you don’t have everything you do need, you still figure out a way, and you see that urgent patient need. You see a human being that needs a chance to live, and you just have to find a way to deliver it. So I leave with that piece of the passion that we have to redouble our efforts and think about how do we use the precious resources we have to make the biggest difference for people on this continent living with cancer. [Valentina Jaramillo] Thanks, Geoff. Same question to you, Pat. What’s your biggest takeaway from this meeting? [Pat Garcia-Gonzalez] My biggest takeaway is that it is all worth it. It is all worth it. This is my message to everyone that’s watching us live. All the challenges, all the barriers that we have to do what we’re doing to bring access to treatment for cancer to patients it is definitely worth it and at the end of all our work there is the person who just wants an opportunity to overcome this disease and there is a family wanting their loved one to be with them. So, I also, I know that, you know, nothing is easy and things get complicated but I am and I have this renewed energy that it is all worthwhile and I will remember all the conversations we’ve had this day as we move forward to create even more impact for patients. [Valentina Jaramillo] Thank you. Thank you for your words. Thank you, Geoff, for yours, and thank you all of you for watching and tuning in. If you want to learn more about how to help patients in Africa get access to their treatment, go to, and if you want to continue to see what happens in this Last Mile event and what we do, what Novartis does, with other patient groups as well as with The Max Foundation, please follow our Novartis Cancer Facebook page. Thanks, everyone, and goodbye!

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Posted by: sarah.casey on Aug 21, 2018

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