Health sector opportunities

Legend has it that King Sisyphus from Corinth was made to endlessly roll a huge boulder up a steep hill due to his hubristic belief that his cleverness surpassed that of Zeus himself.

Solving health issues can feel like such a Herculean task but there are interesting developments in funding and engagement. In this article we touch on the developed world’s desire for longevity, the eradication of disease in the developing world, and opportunities for business to engage.

Demand for health services
The demand for health services continues to grow off the back of an ageing first world population as evidenced by share of GDP in developed world is presented in the table below. Funding has maintained its trendline in advance of inflation as we seek a healthier and longer life. 


Yet CDC, a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services reported in 2017 a second year of decline in life expectancy in the US largely to the increase in unintentional injuries1. The Publisher, the Atlantic byline summarised this as “because of the Opioid epidemic”2.

The Opioids were not restricted to illegal substances. Prescription drugs are a major contributor. The rise of medication over a healthy lifestyle / society masks a two-speed backdrop that has played out in the political theatre.

Health is the largest sector recipient of private funding
CECP, a US based CEO led social conscience coalition records in its Giving in Numbers: 2017 Edition for large corporate US companies Health & Social Services 26%. Healthcare 60% and Consumer Staples 50% of total donations.

Financial advisory firm JB Were reported in 2017 that in Australia large companies apply 32% of their funding to health, with 25% allocated by Australian SMEs, which compares to 31% in New Zealand.

There are many ways in which companies can champion health within the workforce. Here are a few examples along the health continuum to help businesses determine fit to their Purpose.

Profound changes with the elimination of Hep C in NZ and global eradication of TB
In New Zealand Hepatitis C “Hep C” affects 50,000 Kiwis. Hep C Action Aotearoa are working to eliminate the disease in NZ. They are aiming for a 2025 that coincides with the UK’s date. The World Health Organisation is scheduling for 2030.

The timeline provides business a tangible opportunity to play a part with an achievable solution.   

Hep C is a treatable disease. Negative perceptions of disease attraction prevail. We need to overcome stigma. At minimum leaders can be tested and proudly share that we have so done. As Business owners we can state this and offer this care to our colleagues.

Tuberculosis “TB” meanwhile has a personal association to our family. The death of my grandfather in 1935 left my grandmother to bring up four boys aged 13 and under.

In May 2014, the World Health Assembly endorsed the Organisation’s post-2015 Global TB Strategy aims to eradicate the disease by 2035.

However, Pfizer exited TB research in 2012, followed by AstraZeneca in 2013 and Novartis in 2014. In the private sector, pharmaceutical companies have been withdrawing from TB research, as part of a trend away from anti-infective drugs toward the development of new drugs for chronic illnesses.3

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation now funds 25% of research on new tools to fight TB. Other [corporate] donors / partners need to be found to work alongside and be associated with the Gates’.     

Mental Health
In 2013, Hell Pizza partnered with Idea.Org to employ people with mental disability within their stores. The video clip highlights the advantages of diversity and inclusion. 4

Healthy lifestyle
Restaurateur Al Brown in our 04 July article demonstrated the value of understanding where one’s food comes from, and the opportunity to take that learning into the home and the workplace.5

Giddy Up worked with the Partners of Ford Sumner to select a Community Partner that encourages good health choices and participation. A three-year sponsorship was agreed with the Ocean Swim series. Their senior lawyers have embraced the relationship and are now into swim training.

Middle-class cocaine users are hypocrites, says Met chief
In a critique from the Police Commissioner Cressida Dick in the UK,

“There is this challenge that there are a whole group of middle-class – or whatever you want to call them – people who will sit round … happily think about global warming and fair trade, and environmental protection and all sorts of things, organic food, but think there is no harm in taking a bit of cocaine. Well, there is; there’s misery throughout the supply chain.”6

In the developed world we can easily be seen to be living in hubris. However, we can share the benefits throughout the supply chain, especially with those who are higher at risk. If we don’t we pass the role of kings pushing stones onto our progeny.  And that’s not very clever at all.  









InsightsBrian Steele