Novo Nordisk Launches ‘Blueprint for Change’ Case on Bangladesh

Novo Nordisk, a global leader in diabetes care, is launching today the fourth instalment of its Blueprint for Change cases. The latest paper, called Changing diabetes in Bangladesh through sustainable partnerships, looks at the company’s achievements in Bangladesh using its Triple Bottom Line’s approach to deliver better results, healthcare and shared value.

The program was launched in 2010 and the cases provide insights into the best practices for building sustainable solutions with a net positive impact. The themes are selected in discussion with stakeholders and have so far included cases on the company’s climate action strategy, its market entry strategy for China and shared value created in the United States. Currently, there are ten topics planned to be addressed in the coming three years.

The overall goal is to demonstrate to stakeholders how sustainable value is created through the TBL approach. Novo Nordisk’s shared value policies have already attracted recognition. In 2012 alone, it received top ranking on Corporate Knight’s list of Global 100 More Sustainable Corporations and it won the Just Means Best Sustainability Performance award, to name but a few.

Bangladesh is a UN-designated least developed country (LCD) and it has a disproportionately high number of diabetes cases, with more than 12 percent of the population affected by it. Nearly half of those people are undiagnosed and only one third is treated. Not all is bad news, though. Bangladesh’s economy is growing six percent annually (a greater rate than the ones registered in some developed nations) and in recent years it has achieved one of the fastest growth rates in the Human Development Index, a UN-calculated measure of development that combines indicators such as life expectancy, education and income.

Novo Nordisk says there are three key success factors to enter a new market: a local champion, political will and economic resources. The champion in Bangladesh is the Diabetic Association of Blangladesh (BADAS), a volunteer organization that has been at the forefront of diabetes care since its creation in 1956. These days it runs 99 centers across the country and treats 25% of the estimated diabetes population. BADAS’s president Azad Khan is one the most active agents of improvement of diabetes healthcare in his country. In order to offset the issue of limited economic resources, Novo Nordisk has provided funding for treatment, patients’ empowerment measures and advocacy in the country.

One of the key aspects of the case is BADAS’ Distance Learning Programme (DLP) funded by Novo Nordisk. The Certificate Course on Diabetology (CCD) is designed to fill in an expertise gap since only 24% of physicians in Bangladesh receive any training on diabetes management. The company also offers cheaper insulin for one fifth of the price charged in western countries while prices to governmental agencies do not excess US$0.20 per day. Introduced in 2005, the cut-price initiative created value for Novo Nordisk with a rise of seven percent in sales in the first subsequent year.

The company’s strategy for children with diabetes has also had an impact on Bangladeshi children. 23 percent of the children served by the US$25 million Changing Diabetes in Children program, established in 2008, are from Bangladesh. The program partners with governments to provide treatments for children with type 1 diabetes and has struck a chord with stakeholders. It also has enhanced the company’s reputation, besides creating a sense of pride amongst employees.

Overall the company’s shared value for strategy is reflected in the higher number of diagnoses, up to 52 percent in 2011 from 40 percent in 2000. Treatment rates have also increased with 65 percent of the diagnosed population having received treatment in 2011. It is estimated that the figure was as low as 21 percent in 2000. Besides, 850 jobs were created. The company says that its shared value drive in Bangladesh has created a high level of employee satisfaction, as 89 percent say they are motivated and satisfied. Novo Nordisk highlights the Bangladesh model could not be integrally replicated in other LDC countries, since several variables have informed the results achieved, but some key components of its strategy, such as the distance learning program, could work elsewhere.

Image credit: Novo Nordisk