Save the Children and GSK: Transforming children’s health through a unique partnership. 

Justin Forsyth, Save the Children CEO, and Andrew Witty, GSK CEO, visit communities in north east Kenya to launch our partnership in May 2013


In May 2013, Save the Children and GSK formed an ambitious partnership to help save the lives of one million children. By combining our expertise, resources and influence we aim to transform child health in some of the world’s poorest countries.

This unique collaboration goes beyond the traditional charity corporate fundraising model and sees the two organisations working together in a very different way.

Our multi-layered, shared value partnership incorporates programmatic work, advocacy and campaigning, employee engagement, marketing initiatives and the research and development of child friendly medicines.

Together we will focus on widening vaccine coverage to the poorest children, increase investment in health workers and develop a low cost nutritional product to help combat child malnutrition.

Making an impact on the ground

Together, we are implementing flagship programmes on the ground to directly improve access to healthcare and good nutrition for mothers and children. Starting in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya we are developing programmes to tackle child mortality and we will establish sustainable models which can be adopted by governments and rolled out in other developing countries in future.

Save the Children is also a partner of GSK’s 20% Reinvestment Initiative, through which GSK reinvests 20% of the profits it makes in the world’s least developed countries back into projects which strengthen healthcare infrastructure, primarily through training community health workers. The initiative is focused on helping to address the estimated shortfall of at least 3.5 million health workers needed globally in order to provide lifesaving healthcare for mothers and children.

Research and development of child friendly medicines

Through our partnership GSK and Save the Children are working together to accelerate the availability of life-saving medicines designed especially for children. For example, the antiseptic chlorhexidine – commonly used in mouthwash – will be reformulated into a gel for cleansing the umbilical cord stump of newborn babies to prevent serious infection, a major cause of newborn death in poor countries.

In a groundbreaking move, Save the Children will also be involved in helping GSK to research and develop medicines for children with a seat on a new paediatric research and development board to accelerate progress on innovative life-saving interventions for under-fives, as well as identifying ways to ensure the widest possible access to medicines.

GSK and Save the Children Healthcare Innovation Award

As a way of supporting innovation in healthcare beyond our organisations, a $1 million Healthcare Innovation Award fund was launch in June 2013. Its purpose was to identify innovative approaches to preventing under-5 child mortality from developing countries, award funds to support the further development of innovations and profile winners to other organisations wishing to learn from or replicate these approaches.

The winners, as chosen by a judging panel of external experts were announced in November 2013 , with the highest award going to Friends of Sick Children Malawi for their innovative low-cost adaptation of a breathing device to help newborn babies in respiratory distress. Award funds will be used to replicate use of the ventilator to other African countries to save even more lives.

Leveraging and uniting GSK’s global workforce

Employees are encouraged to take an active role in the partnership through both fundraising and sharing of skills and expertise. In the first year of the partnership employees are aiming to raise £1million, which will be matched by GSK. Fundraising has got off to a fantastic start with a range of events taking place globally, including cake sales, a global cycle challenge and running events.

Save the Children also benefits from GSK’s PULSE Volunteer Partnership, GSK’s skills based volunteering programme. In 2013 fourteen employees are undertaking secondments across Save the Children. One GSK employee will be working in the DRC to improve the distribution and supply chain for vaccines and another is working in London to establish a framework to measure the impacts of our global partnership. 

Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive of Save the Children said:

“This ground-breaking partnership involves both organisations working in genuinely new ways to save the lives of a million children.

"In the past, Save the Children may not have embarked on collaboration with a pharmaceutical company like GSK. But we believe we can make huge gains for children if we harness the power of GSK's innovation, research and global reach."

Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK said:

“A partnership of this scale gives us an opportunity to do something amazing – to save the lives of one million children, and to transform the lives of millions more. At GSK we are motivated by developing innovative life-saving medicines and getting them to the people that need them.

“By joining forces with Save the Children, we can amplify these efforts to create a new momentum for change and stop children dying from preventable diseases. I hope this partnership inspires GSK employees and sets a new standard for how companies and NGOs can work together towards a shared goal.”

- Partner website