AstraZeneca - Pioneering sustainability across full span of global pharma operations

December 12, 2021 | 08:00
With strong commitments and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally, AstraZeneca is pioneering the Net-Zero Corporate Standard of the new Science Based Targets initiative in the pharmaceutical industry. Nitin Kapoor, chairman and general director of AstraZeneca Vietnam, discussed with Thuy Nguyen the company’s sustainable development strategy and its contribution to the sustainable growth of healthcare in Vietnam.

Discussions about sustainability are centred on the energy industry that accounts for the majority of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. What role does the healthcare sector have to play in this dialogue and what has AstraZeneca done to contribute?

AstraZeneca - Pioneering sustainability across full span of global pharma operations
Nitin Kapoor, chairman and general director of AstraZeneca Vietnam

The healthcare sector actually accounts for 4 per cent of global GHG emissions – a fact that we cannot overlook. Even though it is not as significant as some other industries, we need to play our part if we want to preserve the planet for our sons and daughters.

The recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) was timely and significant, and it is encouraging to see thousands of public and private sector leaders convene to discuss, debate, and set targets to address climate change – the most pressing threat facing us and our younger generations, around the world and in Vietnam. Sustainability is crucial for all countries to build back our economy and society better, and we need to make more rapid progress to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Environmental protection is one of the three main pillars in AstraZeneca’s commitment to sustainability. We aim to lead by example in reducing GHG emissions globally through our Ambition Zero Carbon programme launched in January 2020 where we committed to having zero carbon emissions from our operations across the world by 2025 and ensure our entire value chain is carbon negative by 2030. We are one of only seven companies globally and the only pharmaceuticals company to have had our plans verified under the Science Based Targets initiative Net-Zero Corporate Standard.

How is AstraZeneca Vietnam contributing to the government’s ambitious sustainability goals through local initiatives?

In the Partnership for Health System Sustainability and Resilience – a health policy programme founded by the World Economic Forum, London School of Economics and AstraZeneca – we define ‘sustainability’ as a health system’s ability to withstand internal and external stresses (epidemiological, economic, social, political and environmental challenges) in order to maintain and continually improve performance of its functions and achievement of its goals.

In Vietnam, through our Green Energy for Health programme – a partnership with the Ministry of Health (MoH) with support from the UK government – AstraZeneca has donated solar power systems to Vietnamese health facilities impacted by natural disasters. With this new, clean energy source, not only are these hospitals and clinics saving costs that can be better invested into upgrading equipment and facilities. They are having stable electricity critical for emergency services and surgeries for patients.

To support the sustainable growth of Vietnam’s health system and economy, increasing high-skilled jobs and strengthening the domestic manufacturing industry, we are working towards the prospects of carrying out technology transfer and local contract manufacturing of some of our key medicines in Vietnam. This also aligns well with the Programme on Developing the Pharmaceutical Industry and Domestic Manufacture of medicinal ingredients to 2030, with a vision towards 2045 (ratified by Prime Minister’s Decision No. 376/QD-TTg dated 17 March 2021).

AstraZeneca has recently announced a VND2 trillion ($90 million) additional investment in Vietnam. How will these funds be used?

Under the witness of Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in Glasgow, the United Kingdom earlier this month during his working trip to COP26, AstraZeneca officially announced our investment of VND2 trillion to develop Vietnam’s domestic manufacturing capabilities and expand patients’ access to high-quality, locally made medicines. This investment will be made between 2022 and 2030 and will enable the production of three AstraZeneca medicines in Vietnam – the first Southeast Asian country where we will conduct a full tech transfer for these medicines. Under the MoH’s guidance, we will appoint a Vietnamese contract manufacturing partner and then transfer the necessary technology and knowledge to support their ability to manufacture these drugs, ensuring high-quality products in line with AstraZeneca’s global standards.

We are honoured that the PM recognised our contributions to Vietnam’s security, public health safety, and socioeconomic development. With the government’s support, we are seeing more and more companies producing their products here in Vietnam, sometimes for the whole region. This will enhance not only the sustainability but also the resilience of the healthcare system – something we need to really push for to be able to withstand future crises beyond COVID-19.

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