AstraZeneca US and Health Equity: Today & Tomorrow

WRITTEN BY

Martha Orzechowski, Head, US Advocacy & Alliance, Corporate Affairs

The challenges faced over the past year have reinforced the urgent need to address health inequities that negatively impact health outcomes of underserved populations in a more focused manner. The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified how social determinants of health shape an individual’s overall wellbeing – urging us to do more. As a natural extension of our company Values to follow the science and put patients first, AstraZeneca US is making a long-term commitment to identify and invest in solutions to advance health equity. Living these values in today’s environment requires us to increase our focus on closing the gaps in health outcomes, particularly those between white Americans and underserved racial minorities. To determine how to best address these inequities, we are taking a collaborative approach and engaging partners to help guide our efforts. A key part of this includes seeking external experts’ insights through a standing advisory council, supporting non-profit partners who are advancing health equity and providing opportunities for our employees to get involved.

Seeking Expert Insights

To aid us in achieving our commitment to health equity, we’ve created the AstraZeneca US Health Equity Advisory Council (HEAC), which includes national leaders from the public and private sector who will guide the evolution of AstraZeneca’s health equity strategy in our therapeutic areas and communities where we operate. Through the HEAC, we are creating a space for collaboration with experts who have a deep understanding of the needs of underserved populations and who have the experience to help us implement solutions. The HEAC will accelerate our understanding and facilitate frank, informative discussion needed to push our efforts further and prioritize the most pressing issues in innovative and meaningful ways as we work toward broader health equity.

“A key insight from our collective efforts during the pandemic is that breakthrough progress comes from harnessing the power of different stakeholders and perspectives to achieve a common goal. We know that no one company, organization or government can address the issue of health equity alone. We’re incredibly excited to work alongside leading experts to outline and execute against long-term plans that will allow us to eliminate disparities and improve outcomes for patients in our key therapeutic areas.” –  Dave Fredrickson, Executive Vice President, Oncology Business Unit

Collaborating with Strategic Partners

To better reach underserved populations, we are evolving and expanding our strategic collaborations with US-based non-profit organizations. AstraZeneca will also source innovative community-based solutions from across the country through the ACT on Health Equity: Community Solutions Challenge, an evolution of our Annual Health and STEM Innovation Challenge. This year we will support community-based programs that improve community health and wellbeing and address the social determinants of health at the regional and local level.

Engaging Employees

We are harnessing the passion and commitment of our AstraZeneca US employees to support our health equity work. Our US employees will have various opportunities to support this mission throughout the year, including involvement in our strategic collaborations to bring diverse perspectives and ensure our values are represented. In addition, our Power of Us program will facilitate opportunities for employees to volunteer, donate, and participate in educational and sustainable activities that are focused on health equity.

We recognize that we have an important role to play in advancing health equity as a commercial and R&D leader, as an employer with 13,400 US-based employees and as a stakeholder in the US healthcare system. The past year has provided a critical opportunity for us to reflect on our role and how important it is for us to listen, learn and act.

Improving outcomes for all patients is our ultimate motivation, and we are committed to taking the steps needed to help create sustainable and meaningful change in the area of health equity.