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Novartis Healthy Family programs

Active Since: 2007

Contributing to SDGs…

A social business model building local, sustainable capabilities for healthcare in developing countries.



  • Academia or research institute

    Boston University

  • Global NGOs

    Various NGOs

  • Government

    Ministry of Health


  • Improve healthcare access for people living at the bottom of the economic pyramid (BoP) using an innovative social business approach, enhancing access to healthcare and medicines in a sustainable way that delivers both social value for the poor and economic value for the company.
  • Raise health awareness in rural communities by spreading messages on prevalent diseases and their symptoms, preventive measures through good hygiene, hand washing, nutrition and early diagnosis.

What are the health needs and challenges?

In many developing countries, most people live in rural or semi-urban villages. Health education, health-seeking behavior and health expenditure are low in these communities, where women and children are especially affected by health problems. Health problems are also amplified by poor sanitation, hygiene, nutrition and a lack of clean water. In many communities, tuberculosis, diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, mother and child malnutrition, gastrointestinal problems, noncommunicable diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes, and an alarming rate of infant mortality are common. In India, for example, more than 65% of the population have limited or no access to healthcare, primarily due to underdeveloped healthcare infrastructure.

Partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

In 2007, Novartis launched “Arogya Parivar” in India, the first of several Novartis Healthy Family program. Novartis Healthy Family is a social business model that builds local, sustainable capabilities for healthcare in developing countries.

Arogya Parivar (“Healthy Family” in Hindi) works with local resources and empowers villagers to help themselves. Novartis recruits and trains locals in remote villages to become “health educators,” who help inform communities about health, disease prevention and the benefits of seeking timely treatment. Local teams also work with doctors to organize health camps in remote villages – mobile clinics that provide access to screening, diagnosis and therapies. “Health supervisors” serve as the initiative’s local sales force, interacting with local pharmacies and doctors.

The program, which became self-sustaining in less than three years, offers more than 40, low-cost medications for communicable and noncommunicable diseases that are prevalent in rural India. Its 500 traveling health educators and sales supervisors have become a welcome sight.

Given Arogya Parivar’s success in India, Novartis has rolled out similar programs in Vietnam and Kenya. The initiative has been adapted to local market conditions and disease prevalence in each country. In Vietnam, the Healthy Family model is based on a public-private partnership. Healthcare professionals in public health roles collaborate with Novartis and travel to rural areas to conduct health awareness sessions as well as diagnose patients. From 2010 to 2018, outreach in rural areas across the three countries has brought health education to more than 40 million people, including close to 8 million people in 2018 alone. Also in 2018, more than 700,000 patients have been diagnosed and treated in health camps.

The product portfolio is adapted to focus on the diseases most prevalent in the rural areas of each country. To be included in the portfolio, products need to be simple to use and relevant to local patients. The current portfolio of medicines includes antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidemia medicines as well as anti-infectives that can be used in gynecological treatments. Products to treat cold, allergies and diarrhea are also part of the portfolio.

Novartis plans to expand the program to more geographic areas in 2019. For example, in India, the company plans to launch Healthy Family in new states and in poor urban areas.

The model is based on six “A’s”:

Health education meetings on hygiene, nutrition and common prevalent conditions increase disease awareness and inform communities about prevention and the importance of good health.

Medicines in the Healthy Family portfolios meet affordability criteria in rural settings. Further, providing health services and medicines close to home minimizes travel costs, which can be more expensive than treatment.

Several factors account for low adherence rates to treatment in developing countries, including the out-of-pocket cost of drugs or low levels of health literacy. Heath education meetings and health camps help by providing information about the importance of following treatment through.

Products are tailored to the local disease burden, and health educators adapt the program to local needs, including dialect and culture. Training of health educators and supervisors – as well as communication – are also suited to local conditions.

Healthy Family programs ensure availability of medicines and healthcare in rural settings. Strong links with healthcare practitioners, pharmacists and distributors help make medicines available in the most remote areas. Through health camps, doctors travel to rural areas to provide screening, diagnosis, treatment and preventive care.

Implementing large-scale health solutions requires alliances with multiple partners, including governments, NGOs, distributors, companies, academic institutions, etc. Healthy Family programs work with several groups to deliver integrated healthcare solutions, from health awareness through to treatment affordability.


SDG 3: Good Health and Wellbeing

  1. 3.1: Reduce Maternal Mortality
  2. 3.2: Reduce Under-5 Mortality 
  3. 3.4: NCDs (including mental health)
  4. 3.7: Access to sexual and reproductive health-care services 

SDG 5: Gender Equality

SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals