Investing In The Future Of Healthcare In The UAE: Tamer El Sallab, Head of Gulf and Levant Cluster, Viatris Viatris is a global healthcare company with a mission to empower people worldwide to live healthier at every stage of life.

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Tamer El Sallab, Head of Gulf and Levant Cluster, Viatris

When the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) decided to initiate the 2022 edition of BE BOLD, a three-month innovation program that engages with the public and private sector to help design national health programs aligned with the UAE strategy in healthcare, it got strong support from the country's private sector.

Viatris, an American global pharmaceutical and healthcare corporation, officially joined the program as an active participant and sponsor in order to support the UAE in finding solutions to create healthier communities. In an interview with Entrepreneur Middle East, Tamer El Sallab, Head of Gulf and Levant Cluster, Viatris, explains how his company's sponsorship of the BE BOLD initiative is in line with its CSR program in the Arabian Gulf.

Here are excerpts from our interview with El Sallab:

Please introduce yourself and what you do at Viatris.

Viatris is a global healthcare company with a mission to empower people worldwide to live healthier at every stage of life. Formed in November 2020, Viatris is the result of the combination of Pfizer's Upjohn unit and Mylan, bringing together best-in-class scientific, manufacturing and distribution expertise with proven regulatory, medical, and commercial capabilities to deliver high-quality medicines to patients in more than 165 countries and territories.

Our portfolio comprises of more than 1,400 approved molecules across a wide range of therapeutic areas, spanning both non-communicable and infectious diseases, including globally recognized brands, complex generic and branded medicines, and a variety of over-the-counter consumer products.

But our mission takes us further. At Viatris, we see healthcare not as it is, but as it should be. To drive change, we bring a combination of strengths and qualities to enable equal access to a broad range of trusted, quality medications, regardless of geography or circumstance.

In the Gulf and Levant cluster, our team serves seven countries where healthcare standards are developing and have improved over recent years. But the region has its challenges. The burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) –including cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, and mental illness– on communities and economies has put NCDs at the top of the healthcare agenda for governments across the region.

In the Gulf and Levant region we believe that public and private partnerships hold a pivotal role in addressing the most significant unmet health needs, and our focus at Viatris is on NCDs.

What are Viatris' latest innovations in healthcare? Can you share recent initiatives?

Innovation is key to expanding greater access to high-quality medicines. We have expertise across multiple dosage forms and engage in strategic development partnerships that can complement and enhance our purpose-fit capabilities with an aim to accelerate the expansion of patients' access to medicine in every market we operate in globally.

We look to build upon our strong foundation of successful partnerships. These future partnerships could include collaborations, distribution and co-promotion agreements, development and licensing agreements and joint ventures.

We have been at the forefront of supporting innovative approaches in continued medical education (CME) programs, providing the latest data and research to ultimately achieve enhanced standards of treatment and care. Recent collaborations include partnerships with governments, including the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention and the Ministry of Health in Oman; with universities and academia, including New York University Abu Dhabi and American College of Cardiology, and with patient groups like the Emirates Cardiac Society and the Emirates Oncology Society, for example.

Related: The Emirati Genome Program: A Gamechanger For Healthcare In The UAE

Tamer El Sallab, Head of Gulf and Levant Cluster, Viatris, with the winners of the 2022 BE BOLD program. Source: Viatris

What trends/opportunities in the healthcare industry would you recommend entrepreneurs in the BE BOLD program and otherwise to focus on? According to you, are there any particular issues/aspects/regions that are being overlooked by entrepreneurs in the healthcare space?

There are three global trends that have been relevant to the BE BOLD entrepreneurs and that I would like to highlight.

The first trend has been brought into sharp focus by the recent pandemic– and that is the need to build more resilient healthcare systems. The vulnerabilities in public health systems globally came to light and has led to a shift in the dynamics of public health; the need to reimagine and transform public health systems into ones that are human-centered, inclusive, and resilient to future shocks.

The second trend is sustainable healthcare funding, and the need to focus on sustainable operations and innovative solutions to improving patient health. This is especially true for healthcare funding and demands a shift in seeing healthcare investments as a tool to grow the economy rather than as a budgetary cost.

The third is the importance and value of public-private partnerships. To achieve the valuable transformation across health systems, this will require all sectors to leverage the collective expertise to connect people to products and services and overcome widespread barriers. More than ever, this will require increased levels of engagement and collaboration between government and businesses at local, national, and global levels.

What was your experience of being involved in this year's BE BOLD program?

It's been an enlightening experience and a privilege to support the BE BOLD Program -seeing and interacting with young entrepreneurs with such diverse backgrounds and with so much energy and passion- all supported by the Ministry of Health, emphasizing its innovative role in encouraging the young generation in taking active part in building the future.

I was impressed by the projects and ideas presented, and the design thinking model used throughout the program. The model is something that I will take back with me for use with my teams; its focus is on step-by-step problem-solving and understanding of a challenge or opportunity, rather than going straightforward to providing solutions and ideas.

What resonated strongly was the commitment among these young entrepreneurs to eliminate the stigma around mental health– a large percentage of the projects tackled mental health and wellbeing, which provides insights on the unmet needs in this area. The energy among the BE BOLD participants to drive positive change, to contribute to their communities and to challenge the status quo is something that has inspired and motivated me.

THE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Tamer El Sallab, Head of Gulf and Levant Cluster, Viatris, shares his tips for entrepreneurs in the healthcare sector

1. Focus on patients' needs "Working in healthcare is about enhancing people's lives and helping them make better choices for their physical and mental wellbeing."

2. Amplify the importance of early screening "It is to detect diseases at early stages, or rather prevent them, as well as to highlight on measures to live well with chronic diseases. As we live longer lives, we all want to maintain our physical and mental wellbeing. Finding ways of preventing illnesses is a critical element in ensuring that we can have real quality of life at every age."

3. Think personalization "We have more data than ever before about our lives and health. Our sleep patterns, our blood sugar levels, the number of steps we walk, our calorie intake, even our DNA and genetic histories. As healthcare advances, this information will help us to develop more personalized and bespoke treatments, prevention programs, diagnoses, medicines, and more. Personalized healthcare has a huge future, and I'd love to see more entrepreneurs from the region working in this space."

4. Prioritize collaboration "Collaboration is at the heart of what drives real change and real impact across our healthcare systems. Whether it is the private and public sectors working together, or data analysts working with physicians and nurses to understand the individuals behind the numbers, or a tech-wearables business partnering with a clinical psychologist to know more about what drives behavioral change- you'd be amazed at how much can be achieved through working and learning from one another's expertise. BE BOLD has been a great platform to start building those partnerships and exchanges of knowledge."

Related: Healing Clouds, A Metaverse-Enabled Concept For Enhancing Employee Mental Health, Wins The UAE Ministry Of Health And Prevention's BE BOLD 2022 Program

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