Merck Unites with African and Asian Universities to Raise Diabetes Awareness
Merck, a leading company for innovative and top-quality high-tech products in healthcare, life science and performance materials, in collaboration with Maharashtra University of Health Sciences and Directorate of Medical Education & Research is introducing European Accredited Clinical Diabetes management for more than 5000 medical students in 18 medical colleges of Maharashtra University as part of Merck Capacity Advancement Program (CAP) in Asia.
The course is European accredited and will be incorporated in the MBBS curricula of 18 medical colleges. It is aimed to build the future diabetes health care capacity in Maharashtra.
Dr. Stefan Oschmann, Vice Chairman and Deputy CEO of Merck said, “Merck is pleased to collaborate with Maharashtra University of Health Sciences and Directorate of Medical Education & Research as part of our commitment to building health care capacity and providing sustainable access to high-quality health solutions and safe medicines in India. It marks another step in our commitment to working with governments and other stakeholders in building healthcare capacity with a focus on non-communicable diseases in various countries in Asia-Pacific, Middle East Africa and Latin America."
Prof. Dr Arun Jamkar, Vice Chancellor of Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, MUHS- Nashik emphasized, “It gives us immense pleasure to invite the stakeholders in the field of medicine and diabetes in Maharashtra In joint collaboration with DMER and Merck, this diabetes education course aims to provide guidelines and clinical practice for prevention, diagnosis and management of diabetes and its complications for medical undergraduates of the 18 medical colleges in Maharashtra university.”
Rasha Kelej, Vice President, Head of Global Business Responsibility and Market Development, Merck Serono, added, “The lack of financial means is not the only challenge but a scarcity of trained health care personnel capable to tackle the prevention, diagnosis and management of diabetes at all levels of the health care systems. Therefore Merck aims to address the current constraints in the health system to effectively manage diabetes and the need for developing workable strategies for ensuring timely and appropriate management with extensive linkage and support for enhancing the availability of trained manpower as part of our commitment to contributing towards the social and economic development of India and the rest of the Asian continent.”
“The socio-economic burden of the disease can be reduced by timely intervention from trained healthcare professional as many patients can be prevented from becoming diabetics if diagnosed at early stage,” she added.
The Merck Capacity Advancement Program aims at expanding the professional capacity in the areas of research and development, clinical research, supply chain integrity and efficiency, pharmacovigilance, medical education and awareness for medical and pharmacy undergraduates, physicians and pharmacists in rural areas.
The 5-year program was kicked off successfully in 7 sub-Saharan countries which are Kenya, Uganda, Namibia Angola, Ghana, Tanzania and Mozambique and will further expand to other Sub-Saharan and Asian countries in 2014.
Based on its long experience in diabetes management, which began in 1957 with the development of metformin, Merck seeks to raise awareness of diabetes in India by educating the public and supporting the health care system to prevent, diagnose and manage the condition effectively.
As part of the Merck Capacity Advancement Program (CAP), by end of 2015, more than 5,000 medical students in partnership with African universities such as University of Nairobi, Makerere University, Namibia University and University of Ghana, in addition to Asian universities such as Maharashtra University in India and University of Indonesia will benefit from European-accredited clinical diabetes and chronic diseases management training, which is seeking to equip them with skills to avert the diabetes and hypertension epidemic.
Merck is planning to target more than 15,000 students by the end of 2018 expanding to more African, Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern countries with special focus on non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, thyroid dysfunction and fertility management. The program also focuses on building research capacity and improving supply chain in order to improve patient safety in Africa.
How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats
One of the most fundamental lessons from the COVID crisis is that health should always be a priority. In a similar fashion to the human body that frequently fights off viruses and foreign invaders that intend to cause it harm, the sector itself is now a prime target for another type of external threat: cyberattacks.
The figures speak for themselves: between December and January this year, hospitals in the UK were at 89% capacity, with 7,000 fewer available beds than there usually are. As the pandemic increased pressure on hospitals, clinics, and research facilities to create a treatment for patients globally, it has left the sector exposed to hackers who, like a virus, have been targeting it relentlessly and evolving their tactics.
From patient records being held ransom, to fake emails claiming to originate from the UN WHO, the NHS, or vaccine centres, through to attacks on the cold supply chain to find out the secret formula of the COVID vaccine, the healthcare industry is facing constant cyberattacks and struggling to cope. This threat is unlikely to go away anytime soon – and as such, the industry needs to take a proactive, preventative stance to stay safe in a dynamic digital world.
The responsive nature of healthcare – particularly of hospitals – means that efficiency is crucial to the industry’s standard operations. To support this, the sector has been embracing technological advancements that can improve the quality of work, enabling staff to meet pressing deadlines, and enhancing patient care. For example, the industry has been digitising records and improving its ways of working through digital means over the past few years.
This shift is critical to offer high quality patient care; yet, it also means the sector has become more dependent on IT, which can come with a risk if cybersecurity processes employed are deemed as inadequate.
Without the correct security measures in place, the desired efficiency gains realised, can be easily lost in a heartbeat. Simply put, an elementary glitch in the system can have a tremendous ripple effect on many areas, from accessing patient records and conducting scans, to maintaining physical security and protecting the intellectual property of experimental treatment development.
To prevent this, healthcare organisations need to ensure they’re considering cybersecurity as part of their overall digital transformation strategy – and setting the right foundations to create a culture where safety goes hand in hand with patient care.
Before implementing cybersecurity process, healthcare organisations need to assess the potential risks they face. Depending on how much confidential data the trust has, where it is stored, who has access to it and via which means, the cybersecurity strategy and associated solutions will change.
It’s fair to say that a medical device start-up where all employees have a corporate-sanctioned laptop and access data via a VPN will have radically different needs to a large hospital with hundreds of frontline workers connecting to the hospital’s Wi-Fi using their personal device.
These requirements will pale by comparison to a global pharmaceutical giant with offices in multiple locations, a large R&D department researching new treatments for complex diseases and a fully integrated supply chain. Considering the existing setup and what the organisations is looking to achieve with its digital transformation strategy will therefore have an immediate impact on the cybersecurity strategy.
Despite this, there are fundamentals that any organisation should implement:
Review and test your back-up policy to ensure it is thorough and sufficient – By checking that the organisation’s back-up is running smoothly, IT teams can limit any risks of disruption in the midst of an incident and of losing data permanently.
In our recent State of Email Security report, we found that six out of ten organisations have been victims of ransomware in 2020. As a result, afflicted organisations have lost an average of six days to downtime. One third of organisations even admitted that they failed to get their data back, despite paying the ransom. In the healthcare industry, this could mean losing valuable patient records or data related to new treatments – two areas the sector cannot afford to be cavalier about.
Conduct due diligence across the organisation’s supply chain – Healthcare organisations should review their ways of working with partners, providers and regulatory institutions they work with in order to prevent any weak link in their cybersecurity chain. Without this due diligence, organisations leave themselves exposed to the risks of third party-led incidents.
Roll out mandatory cybersecurity awareness training - Healthcare organisations shouldn’t neglect the training and awareness of their entire staff – including frontline workers who may not access the corporate network on a regular basis. According to our State of Email Security report, only one fifth of organisations carry out ongoing cyber awareness training.
This suggests it is not widely considered as a fundamental part of most organisations cyber-resilience strategy, despite the fact many employees rely on their organisation’s corporate network to work. By providing systematic training, healthcare organisations can help workers at all levels better understand the current cyberthreats they face, how they could impact their organisation, the role they play in defending the networks, and develop consistent, good cybersecurity hygiene habits to limit the risks of incidents.
Consider a degree of separation – Information and Operational Technology (IT and OT) networks should be separated.
Although mutually supported and reliance on each other, employees shouldn’t be accessing one via the other. This should be complemented by a considered tried and tested contingency and resiliency plan that allows crucial services to function unabated should there be a compromise. Similarly, admin terminals should not have internet access to afford a degree of hardening and protection for these critical accounts.
As the sector becomes a common target for fraudulent and malicious activity, putting cybersecurity at the core of the organisation’s operations is critical. It will help limit the risks of disruption due to cyberattacks, reduce time spent by the cybersecurity team to resolve easily avoidable errors, and ensure that institutions can deliver patient care, safe in the knowledge that their networks are safe.
Fighting future threats
With technology continuing to change the face of healthcare, the surface area and vectors available for attacks by malicious actors is constantly increasing. With the introduction of apps, networked monitoring devices, and a need for communication, the attack vector is ever expanding, a trend that needs to be monitored and secured against.
To prevent any damage to patients, staff, or the organisation they are responsible for, healthcare leaders must put security front and centre of their digital transformation strategy. Only then can the sector harness the full benefits of technology. Doing this should include implementing cybersecurity awareness training to challenge misconceptions around security, encourage conversation, and to ensure employee knowledge of the security basics and threats faced.
This ultimately allows healthcare organisations to do what they do best: provide the highest standard of patient care, safe in the knowledge that their operations, patients, and data are safe.