Supporting the global response to COVID-19

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Judy Stenmark, Director General of The Global Self-Care Federation, explains how the self-care industry is supporting the collective global response to Covid-19. She highlights the importance of self-care health interventions in combination with formal approaches to healthcare for an effective response.

Since the start of the outbreak, as a Federation we have been convening and coordinating the efforts of the self-care industry and our members to support the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hospitals and health systems around the world are more overstretched than ever before. We know that many health systems simply cannot cope with the unprecedented amount of coronavirus patients requiring urgent care. Responsible self-care is crucial to ease this burden and ensure that vulnerable patients are able to get the urgent care they need.

Member response

Our members are taking numerous measures to support a range of self-care interventions to respond to Covid-19, through providing protective equipment, over-the-counter medication, and diagnostics. This is allowing individuals, families and communities to promote and maintain their own health, to better protect themselves against coronavirus and self-manage mild symptoms.

Our industry members are working to ensure continuous access to the medicines they produce, making sure their supply chains stay open and function effectively. This allows them to deliver more of their products that are in high demand due to Covid-19. Over-the-counter medication can be used safely and effectively to alleviate mild coronavirus symptoms, as per approved product information or as directed by healthcare professionals. 

Our members have also provided crucial donations of personal protective equipment, sanitation and hygiene products, and funds to help fight the spread of Covid-19. For example, Johnson & Johnson donated one million masks, in addition to goggles, protective suits, thermometers and respirators, to frontline healthcare workers working in heavily impacted areas in China. GSK is donating $10 million to The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, created by the UN Foundation and WHO, to support WHO and partners to prevent, detect, and manage the pandemic. RB donated £5.5 million in cash and antibacterial products to combat coronavirus in China. P&G also announced a donation of $10 million in products and financial support toward relief effortsand is rapidly increasing production of face masks for global use.

Many other industry members, including Bayer, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson and GSK are also supporting traditional healthcare responses and collaborating to develop treatment against the virus. Bayer is working with the pharmaceutical industry and universities to create a new active substance to treat Covid-19. It is providing access to its substance library and conducting screening work to find a potential active ingredient. Sanofi is collaborating with governments and health agencies to develop a vaccine against the virus, while also testing treatment options using existing medicines. Johnson & Johnson is also collaborating with different partners around the world to create a vaccine, which the company hopes to begin testing later this year. Finally, GSK has made its vaccine adjuvant technology available to scientists and organisations working on candidate vaccines.

Meanwhile, many of our association members are working hard to coordinate the efforts of governments and executive agencies, manufacturers and suppliers to resolve potential problems to ensure a continued supply of products.

We fully support these efforts and a complementary approach combining self-care interventions with formal healthcare. Self-care allows patients to take an active role in their own health through recognizing, monitoring and managing their symptoms.

Taking a holistic approach
I truly believe that the most effective health response is one that is comprehensive. The rapid global outbreak of infectious diseases like Covid-19 shows that it’s high time for public health and self-care to become an integral part of healthcare.

WHO has produced guidance on how to stay safe and protect yourself from Covid-19.

Simple self-care measures that you can take include:

  • Adopting good hand and respiratory hygiene 
  • Being physically active
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet 
  • Making responsible use of non-prescription medicines
  • Following reliable guidance

I would like to welcome you to the GSCF Covid-19 hub. We will use this dedicated space to share self-care news and updates, and to highlight the numerous initiatives that our members are taking to support the Covid-19 response.