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Saving one million children in five years: GSK sets ambitious goal and tangible mission

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- With a commitment to help people to “do more, feel better, live longer,” multinational pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is dedicated to improve people's lives both through its core business and its corporate social responsibility (CSR) missions.

Thomas Willemsen, vice president and general manager of GSK Taiwan, told The China Post that the firm has been focusing its CSR efforts on providing help to children in part because of the firm's special relationship with them. The company is the world's largest vaccine manufacturer and the vaccines it produces benefits mostly children, Willemsen said.

“It is basically in our DNA to want to help children,” he explained. “Protecting children is a big part of who we are.”

GSK partners with the non-governmental organization Save the Children Fund in a five-year program to raise 1 million pounds and save the lives of 1 million children worldwide.

The firm set such a clear target in part because it fits GSK, as a research-strong firm, to establish measure goals. When devising the firm's CSR strategy, GSK executives decided to “do something that's really tangible, measurable, and has an impact,” Willemsen said.

”We are a commercial, researched-based organization. We set ourselves an ambition, a target to achieve for,” he continued. “Saving one million lives is a simple but very ambitious target. And it is something we think we can achieve within five years. I am very interested myself in tracking this.”

The ambitious target encompasses the efforts of GSK employees around the world, Willemsen explained. “It's an inspirational target. It's something so simple that it can bring many people together.”

The beauty of the target lies in the simplicity of its vision that can be understood by all. There is “nothing much to discuss, saving one million lives. That's what we want to do. That's our global CSR (corporate social responsibility) mission,” he explained.

The firm, however, does not stop at the Save the Children partnership. It also utilizes its strength in vaccine productions and its global business bases to provide more localized help.

Since 2006, when GSK introduced the rotavirus vaccines in Taiwan, the firm has been donating the vaccines to charity groups to help protect underprivileged children from the diseases, a common cause for diarrhea.

Taiwan is a “fairly affluent” nation, and its needs are different from that of poor countries, but that does not mean Taiwanese children do not need help, Willemsen stressed.

“Children might not be dying here but there are a lot of people in Taiwan that need help,” Willemsen said. Children from disadvantageous backgrounds need vaccinations that are not covered by the national health insurance program, for example. GSK Taiwan has been extending its hand to improve the life standards of these children and the people taking care of them via its vaccination donation programs.

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GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Taiwan's executives, from left, BU Director Jeffery Huang, Vice President and General Manager Thomas Willemsen, Sr. Product Manager Nike Liu, Sr. PR manager Wendy Chung and Medical Director Diana Cheng pose for photographs at the GSK rotavirus vaccine donation event in Taipei, yesterday.

(Courtesy of GSK Taiwan)

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