17 November 2020 - Deborah Wilkes
Promoting the self-care industry as a true contributor to a healthier world is the most important objective for the Global Self-Care Federation (GSCF), says Bayer Consumer Health’s Heiko Schipper, who has just been elected chair of the federation. Sustainability is also an important issue, Schipper tells OTCToolbox, as is ensuring more people have access to self-care.
Schipper – who is a member of Bayer’s Board of Management and president of the German company’s Consumer Health division – says the COVID-19 pandemic has “driven widespread recognition of the unique value of self-care for society”. “We now need to translate this recognition into policies that promote investment, innovation and growth in our industry,” he adds.
“People realise how important it is to take good care of yourself and remain healthy,” he says, adding that “healthcare systems are under incredible pressure”.
The priority for industry at the moment, he adds, is focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and helping in whatever ways are possible. Companies have to secure product supply, he says, and ensure people have access to good information based on science.
Once we enter a post-vaccine world, continues Schipper, the focus can shift to promoting how the self-care industry can contribute to a better healthcare system.
Schipper points out that the industry can create a better future by helping people prevent illnesses and take care of themselves when they have minor illnesses. “We believe that message is more relevant than ever today,” he stresses.
He points out that the GSCF has initiatives with the World Health Organization (WHO) aimed at giving self-care a greater part in healthcare policy.
Furthermore, the industry is working towards more products entering the self-care space, he says, stressing the importance of taking a science-based approach.
Importance of sustainability
Commenting on sustainability, Schipper says the topic is relevant for everyone. Governments want to do more, he points out, and companies are keen to make commitments in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Noting that the economic picture might be quite challenging as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Schipper stresses the importance of giving more people access to self-care. “Many people do not have access to self-care,” he says, adding that the industry needs to think about ways of giving more people access to self-care.
Bayer recently said self-care would play an important role in its sustainability efforts over the next decade (click here to read the News story).
Chief executive officer Werner Baumann commented that Bayer would “expand access to everyday health for about 100 million people in underserved communities around the world by 2030”.
Baumann explained that Bayer Consumer Health’s “world-known household brands will drive this ambition”. “We will increase the availability and affordability of our trusted, high-quality brands around the world,” promised Baumann, “and support self-care education initiatives that form the basis for shaping behavioural change.”
The initial focus would be on women’s health and expanding access to micronutrients for pregnant women and children.
The self-care initiative is part of a wider move by Bayer to step up its sustainability efforts over the next decade. Announcing its 2030 Sustainable Development Objectives in December 2019, the German company said the move was in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Schipper was elected chair of the GSCF in October 2020. He took over from Alan Main, who up until recently was executive vice president of Sanofi and head of the French company’s Consumer Healthcare division (click here to read the News story).