Read the Conversation
EF: What was your given mission when appointed as Country Manager a year ago and how has that mission changed over this very atypical year?
DH: When I was appointed as Country Head last year, I was given two priorities:
1. Take the business to the next level, modernize the vaccine portfolios, and introduce the right vaccines in the public sector to provide health to the communities so no one dies from a preventable disease.
2. As part of the company strategic decision, integrate our four business units which were “stands alone” and merge them into one big family. This included personnel management and dealing with Covid-19 this year as well.
Even with the pandemic, we haven’t changed our priority decisions as a company. We have merged all business units into one with everybody working from home, maintaining momentum, keeping our employees motivated, and protecting them and their families. Sanofi is an employee, customer, and patient-centric based decision-making company so the shift in the process was easy to achieve. With vaccines, our goals haven’t changed either, our four business units in Peru continue working toward having healthy communities in the country from the office to the field, supply and external manufacturing. Even with the Covid pandemic, we are working alongside the government, chambers, clients, and others to close the gaps generated by transmissible diseases (rabies, polio, yellow fever, flu, etc.), chronic diseases (cardiovascular, diabetes, chronic pain), rare diseases (Pompe, Gaucher, MS), and everyday pains (allergy, child diarrhoea, joint pain, etc.) and at the same time, developing a Covid vaccine for the people´s safety worldwide.
EF: What are the lessons learned from managing your team remotely in the quarantine?
DH: We actually started doing digital changes two years ago so when all the companies started thinking about Zoom, digital platforms, linking with healthcare providers, the ATPs, the HNOs, we already had a platform in place a year ago which gave us leverage and an advantage in this particular area. The main lesson we as leaders in the company learned was how resilient our people are and how they are prepared to go that extra mile when they feel taken care of and protected, by Sanofi in this case. I am happy to say we are doing fine so far and this is mainly due to how the people have responded. Even in not ideal conditions, some of them didn’t even have internet in their homes to begin with while others had children playing around them and all the stress and anxiety which comes with being in quarantine. But they were resilient and prepared to learn.
We have also learned the hard way how our public system suffered also with this pandemic year. Gladly not only the Minister of Health started working exhaustively very fast to attend the population, but also Sanofi and ALAFARPE, among others, have worked together in collaboration to be there on the front line for the patients and the learning is that when there is a virus threatening the country –and the globe- we all work as allies with the public sector to change the lives of the patients. Of course, there always challenges in the health sector but that’s why is so important to work alongside each other.
EF: A month ago we were invited by FIFARMA to a vaccine forum and concern about the distribution of the vaccine was expressed and on how to create access. How do you envision the vaccine distribution in Peru?
DH: A month ago, in August, the company and the country were still working through the distribution mechanisms but the situation has changed and that concern has been allayed. There remain two main issues: the government must make an inventory of the private sectors cold chambers and there must be a collaboration between the public and private sectors to fiscally distribute the vaccine the right way. There have been agreements as to the correct distribution of the vaccine at a global level and in the case of Sanofi, we are working with COVAX global agreements between countries. COVAX ensures global equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines so that big countries with cash flow are not unduly favored. Peru has signed the agreement last week confirming its participation and has to pay 15% in advance for the vaccines. The COVAX mechanisms will assure the country 20% of the total population doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. A part of our global production is going to the COVAX mechanism and Peru will receive the vaccine from them.
EF: What is your personal definition of access?
DH: Access is to have transversal accessibility and reach to public health.
EF: We have seen that you are developing partnerships within Peru with Rappi and Best Service, could you elaborate on these partnerships you are working on for the delivery of vaccines?
DH: Health vaccination rates are dropping in the country due to Covid. People are afraid of going to the public or private health to get a vaccination shot cause fear of Covid transmission as main driver. This means a lot of children, young adults, and elderly people are not getting their vaccines according to plan making them unprotected to polio, rabies, yellow fever, and in the Peruvian jungle, that is not a choice. We cannot have flu, yellow fever, and Covid all happening at the same time because any system in any country will need to focus on the pandemic and what matters the most, that is saving people’s lives, so urgent measures had to be taken and we need to help people to do their part in prevention. As a result, we have come up with the idea of getting flu shots and vaccines to the people. Rappi already has a big clientele with their food delivery app and merged with the best possible partner, Best Service, a vaccination center with 15 years in the country and with experience in vaccination, not only at their vaccination centers but also for remote vaccination at patient’s homes, following the right protocol for delivering vaccines. This partnership has amplified vaccination accessibility so now with a smart cellphone, it is possible to get a yellow fever shot or a child’s vaccine by scheduling and paying for the vaccination on the Rappi app. Rappi then alerts Best Service who in turn will send a person to do the vaccination. The whole operation is totally transparent, safe, Covid-19 free, and straight to the client’s door. It is a win-win all around.
EF: It is an amazing shift in the approach but do you see all these proactive changes as here to stay? Will partnerships, like using delivery for vaccination, be ongoing in the future after Covid-19 is overcome?
DH: Absolutely! Rappi has a lot of expansion plans and we will happily jump in to access every province and remote area. I do not think of this program as a Covid-19 project because access is going to be managed by the MoHs in every country, but as a change in the go-to-market for the future. We are hoping it will be a success story.
EF: What is Sanofi Peru´s relative importance in the global group in terms of footprint and operations?
DH: When we talk about Public Health, every country matters. We are a company that works exhaustively in four flanks preventions: through vaccines, treatments in rare diseases, chronic diseases, and other illness through our General Medicine Division; and Self-Care, through our Consumer Healthcare Division. In these matters of health and improving and impacting people's lives, there is no relative importance for the company, what matters are the patients.
That being said, Peru is part of the LatAm Cluster in the international region which is contributing widely to the growth of the company globally.
EF: What would you like your 2020 tenure to be remembered for?
DH: The decisions we are making in terms of patients and health technology improvement will have an impact on healthcare for the upcoming next ten years. Accessibility and adherence are two of the main challenges in the country; for example, a patient with rare diseases with limited mobility can’t make it sometimes to the hospital to get their free treatment in the public sector, so we are developing programs to allow patients of rare diseases to have home treatments. Bringing treatment to the patient is a great breakthrough in health and we will work in this area in the coming years to make it possible.
The present view on generics will also change. Generics have a low profile sometimes or are seen as the low quality of a great medicine, but our Generics Division is proof of the right balance between quality product and the right price for the patient. With Covid-19, people in general are reading up more on their intake of medications so it is a great opportunity for exploring the generics market as there are a lot of drugs that aren’t the right fit for the patient and random generics have advanced a great deal.
In vaccines as well, we are seeing breakthroughs we haven’t seen before. The record time for developing a vaccine before Covid-19 was around 2 ¼ years and now we are developing a vaccine in one year at a global level. This isn’t a Sanofi achievement but an industry achievement; all the vaccine players are on a mission to show the world that what we do is worthwhile. But as the saying goes ´with great power comes great responsibility´ and, regardless of who has the vaccine, we all share the responsibility of making it accessible to the world. This is not a race against each other but a race to protect humanity and this is what we will be remembered for as an industry, and of course as a company.