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Philips Foundation publishes its 2020 Annual Report highlighting the deployment of health technology expertise for underserved communities


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May 4, 2021

  • 75 successful projects rolled out, including over 40 activities dedicated to combatting COVID-19 in 2020

  • Over 7.5 million people in underserved communities provided with access to healthcare in 2020

  • A global community of social entrepreneurs nurtured through development and scaling of sustainable models that provide affordable access to quality healthcare

Amsterdam, the Netherlands Philips Foundation, with its mission to provide access to quality healthcare for underserved communities through meaningful innovation, today announced publication of its 2020 Annual Report. The report outlines the success of more than 75 projects in 2020 that resulted in 7.5 million people in disadvantaged communities around the world having access to affordable quality healthcare services. This includes projects in China, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

“2020 was an incredibly challenging year, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the importance of global access to quality healthcare into sharp perspective,” says Margot Cooijmans, Director of the Philips Foundation. The urgency of our support responses worldwide took a dazzling flight. I am incredibly grateful to all the partners who joined forces with us in 2020 to deliver timely relief as well as lasting change, and to the employees of Philips and the Philips Foundation, for their constant support and energy in putting our mission into action – organizing access to healthcare for underserved communities.”

COVID-19 response

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck at the beginning of 2020, Philips Foundation stepped up its efforts to protect those communities most at risk. Notable examples highlighted in the organization’s Annual Report include:

  • Healthcare equipment for Thunder God Mountain Hospital (China) – with the support of Philips China, the Philips Foundation donated urgently needed healthcare equipment with a value of approximately EUR 2 million to the newly-built Thunder God Mountain Hospital in Wuhan city to support the prevention and treatment of pneumonia associated with COVID-19.

  • AI software to detect and monitor COVID-19 patients (South Africa) – with the help of implementation funding from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and Dutch entrepreneurial development bank FMO, the Philips Foundation helped to deploy artificial intelligence (AI) software that deepens the analysis of chest X-rays to help the rapid triage and monitoring of COVID-19 patients in 11 South African hospitals.

  • Machine learning and AI to identify epidemic outbreaks (Africa) – a donation by Philips Foundation to establish a Virus Outbreak Data Network in Africa aimed at improving the findability, accessibility, interoperability and reuse of digital assets, including data from Africa’s health systems to identify and contain COVID-19 outbreaks.

  • Rapid deployment intensive care units (Italy and Lebanon) – development and procurement support to create 20-bed mobile ICUs that can be rapidly deployed to locations where COVID-19 threatens to overwhelm local healthcare infrastructures. With financial help from the AFAS Foundation and Noaber Foundation, two of these units were deployed to the Lombardy region and the island of Sardinia in Italy, and in collaboration with Philips Lebanon, the Lebanese Army, and the EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) organization, another was deployed in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut.

A full list of Philips Foundation’s COVID-19 response efforts is available on its website.

In addition to its COVID-19 response efforts, Philips Foundation succeeded in initiating new projects and keeping other ones going. Two examples that stand out are Philips Foundation’s joint initiative with UNICEF to fund and support the ‘Maker Innovation’ project in Kenya, and its collaboration with UK charity Global Action Plan to launch the ‘The Clean Air for Schools Framework’.

  • Maker Innovation project in Kenya – a ‘change the system from within’ initiative aimed at achieving better mother-, newborn-, and child-health in low-resource environments, by fostering local hands-on innovation and entrepreneurship to locally create and manufacture solutions that meet local needs. The project’s ‘Maker Space’ is equipped with digital fabrication tools and equipment for use by students at the University of Nairobi. Through support from the Philips Foundation and training from Philips, the project has already resulted in the development of 19 medical device prototypes, seven of which have been judged suitable for further development.

  • Clean Air for Schools Framework – a framework providing schools, teachers, parents and local authorities in the UK and the Republic of Ireland with an externally validated action blueprint for tackling air pollution in and around schools. With evidence suggesting that halving outdoor air pollution could result in a 20% to 50% reduction in the number of children with poor lung function [1], the tool was so well received that the blueprint is now being rolled out across Spain.

New direction

In 2020, Philips Foundation made a strategic decision to focus on partnerships with social entrepreneurs to develop healthcare technologies and sustainable models that provide underserved communities with affordable access to healthcare – models that leverage the business and innovation expertise and resources of Philips to facilitate solution development and scale-up.

Philips Foundation helped 50 Healthy Entrepreneurs franchisees in Uganda, small businesses in local communities that sell over-the-counter medicines and health products, to expand their services with diagnostic tools and telehealth services. This resulted in increased public awareness of disease, better insight into patients’ conditions, reduced patient expenses, and increased revenue.

In addition, Philips Foundation provided a loan to CheckUps Medical, a provider of affordable primary healthcare services in Kenya and South Sudan, to help more low-wage families access medicines and care, launch a mobile clinic, and further develop CheckUps’ teleconsultation and home care services that started during the local lockdown. Philips Foundation also enabled the setting up of the Solvoz rapid humanitarian aid procurement platform, as well as the Mondmaskerfabriek, which at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis was the Netherlands’ first surgical face mask manufacturer.

As the Philips foundation moves forward, it will continue to foster innovation and create scalable models that make healthcare provision more equal and open to millions of people in underserved parts of the world.

To read the full Annual Report, click here.

[1] Whitehouse A, Effects of air pollution exposure on child health and do interventions work?, Centre for Genomics and Child Health, Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London (UK) https://www.globalactionplan.org.uk/files/effects_of_air_pollution_exposure_by_dr_abigail_whitehouse.pdf

For further information, please contact:

Yannick Eshuijs
Philips Foundation
Tel.: +31 6 1852 6633
E-mail: yannick.eshuijs@philips.com

About the Philips Foundation
Philips Foundation is a registered charity that was established in 2014 – founded on the belief that innovation and collaboration can help solve some of the world’s toughest healthcare challenges for the underserved and make essential impact. Reflecting our commitment to United Nations SDGs 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) and 17 (Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development), the mission of the Foundation is to reduce healthcare inequality by providing access to quality healthcare for disadvantaged communities. Philips Foundation fulfills its mission by deploying Philips’ expertise, innovative products and solutions, by collaborating with key partners around the world (including respected NGOs such as UNICEF, Amref and Save the Children), and by providing financial support for the collaborative activities. More information on can be found at www.philips-foundation.com

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