Creating a culture of health

At GSK, we talk often about our mission of helping people do more, feel better and live longer. To make that mission real, we know we must go beyond our core business of developing and delivering new medicines and vaccines. 

That means we must engage with a range of partners in the government and non-profit sector to build healthier communities where we work, live and go to school. It means we must work with others to create what the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and many others like to refer to as a “culture of health.”

There can be no higher calling – nor anything more challenging – than transforming a culture in a positive way. But for sixteen years now, our friends at Prevention Partners have been working – with obvious success – to do just that.  

Prevention Partners is an innovative North Carolina-based organization that helps workplaces and schools become healthier places. For the last ten years, GSK has been privileged to play a supporting role in their extraordinary efforts. And we are particularly proud to be able to help them take their proven programs to others beyond North Carolina -- an ideal outcome for us as funders and partners. Take a moment to watch this video that Prevention Partners created for us of the children and teachers in action – it will put a smile on your face. (Also – thank YOU Prevention Partners for the 2014 Prevention Excellence Award).

Prevention Partners recently held their annual meeting, bringing together several hundred state and national health leaders to celebrate success, share best practices and discuss thorny problems. In thinking about their efforts, I reflected on how easy it is to forget how much we all rely on non-profit organizations to address critical challenges facing our country, in particular, issues affecting our health. 

The US has a very unusual heritage in this regard. Nearly 200 years ago, one of the first and greatest observers of American life, Alexis de Tocqueville, noted our unique proclivity to look to non-governmental “associations” to advance the public interest. He wrote, “Americans use associations to give fêtes, to found seminaries, to build inns, to raise churches, to distribute books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they create hospitals, prisons, schools.”

As de Tocqueville also observed, there is no roadmap handed down from on high for organizations like Prevention Partners in pursuing their very worthy goals. Success relies on their innovation, rigor and moxie. 

Through a scientific approach and focused leadership, Prevention Partners is changing lives every day and transforming our culture, and for that, we should all be deeply grateful.