Novartis Healthy Family programs

Partnership objectives

  1. Improve healthcare access for people living at the bottom of the economic pyramid (BoP) using an innovative social business approach, enhancing access to healthcare and medicines in a sustainable way that delivers both social value for the poor and economic value for the company.
  2. Raise health awareness in rural communities by spreading messages on prevalent diseases and their symptoms, preventive measures through good hygiene, hand washing and proper nutrition.  

Social ventures are business models that build local, sustainable capabilities for healthcare in developing countries. Social ventures are business models that build local, sustainable capabilities for healthcare in developing countries. Copyright Novartis

What are the health needs and challenges?

In many developing countries, most people live in rural or semi-urban villages. Health education, health-seeking behavior and health expenditure are low in these communities, where women and children are especially affected by health problems. Health problems are also amplified by poor sanitation, hygiene, nutrition and a lack of clean water. In many communities, tuberculosis, diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, mother and child malnutrition, gastrointestinal problems and an alarming rate of infant mortality are common. In India, for example, more than 65% of the population have limited or no access to healthcare, primarily due to underdeveloped healthcare infrastructure.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

In 2007, Novartis launched “Arogya Parivar” in India, the first of several Novartis Healthy Family program. Novartis Healthy Family is a social business model that builds local, sustainable capabilities for healthcare in developing countries.

Arogya Parivar (“Healthy Family” in Hindi) works with local resources and empowers villagers to help themselves. Novartis recruits and trains locals in remote villages to become “health educators,” who help inform communities about health, disease prevention and the benefits of seeking timely treatment. Local teams also work with doctors to organize health camps in remote villages – mobile clinics that provide access to screening, diagnosis and therapies. “Health supervisors” serve as the initiative’s local sales force, interacting with local pharmacies and doctors.

The program, which became self-sustaining in less than three years, offers more than 100 effective, low-cost medications for communicable and non-conmmunicable diseases that are prevalent in rural India. Its 500 traveling health educators and sales supervisors have become a welcome sight. 

Given Arogya Parivar’s success in India, Novartis has rolled out similar programs in Vietnam and Kenya. The initiative has been adapted to local market conditions and disease prevalence in each country. In Vietnam, the Healthy Family model is based on a public-private partnership. Healthcare professionals in public health roles collaborate with Novartis and travel to rural areas to conduct health awareness sessions as well as diagnose patients. Medical college students teach primary and secondary school children about the importance of proper hand washing, nutrition, exercise and keeping a healthy heart.

From 2010 to 2016, outreach in rural areas across the three countries has brought health education to more than 30 million people and direct health benefits to 3 million patients through diagnosis and treatment. In 2016 alone, together, the programs reached more than 7.7 million people through health education sessions.  Nearly 610,000 patients attended specific health camps triggering positive health-seeking behavior.

The product portfolio is adapted to focus on diseases most prevalent in rural areas of each country. To be included in the portfolio, products need to be simple to use, relevant to local patients and have instructions in local languages. The current portfolio of medicines includes TB and rabies treatments, antibiotics, topical anti-infectives, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, anti-fungal, anxiety treatments, diabetes medicines as well as gynecological treatments. Nutritional supplements, as well as products to treat cough, cold, allergies, diarrhea and calcium deficiencies are also part of the portfolio.

Through the initiative, local women gain access to products needed during pregnancy and birth, including calcium, nutritional supplements and Oxytocin, the WHO-recommended treatment for postpartum hemorrhage, which is the leading cause of maternal mortality in low-income countries.


Health educators hold regular health education meetings that focus on prevention, hygiene, nutrition, and common prevalent diseases and their symptoms. Physicians are also educated through knowledge sharing and medical detailing of treatment options.


The program ensures consistent availability of medicines and healthcare in rural settings. In India, for instance, strong links with more than 60,000 doctors, pharmacists and distributors help to make medicines available in the most remote pharmacies. Through health camps, qualified doctors travel to rural areas to provide screening, diagnosis, treatment and preventive care.


Communications, product packaging and training are adaptable to local conditions. The product portfolio is also customized based on the local disease burden. Local health educators are recruited to adapt the program to local dialects and culture.


Providing health services and medicines close to home minimizes travel costs, which can be more expensive than treatment. Many medicines in the portfolio meet affordability needs in these markets, supplying essential medicines that are affordable. 



Partnership information

Company(ies) Novartis

Partner(s) Changamka Kenya, Nam Dinh Medical College, Population Services International (PSI), Thanh Hoa Medical College, Tien Giang Medical Association, Tien Giang Medical College, Vietnam Services of Health, Vinh Medical College, World Friends Association

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals, Government, NGOs, Professional Associations

Therapeutic Focus Infectious Diseases, Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, Non-Communicable Diseases, Other, Women and Children's Health

Disease(s) Cardiovascular Diseases, Children's Health, Dermatological Diseases, Diabetes, General Health, Malnutrition, Rabies, Respiratory Diseases, Tuberculosis, Women's Health

Program Type(s) Availability of Treatment - Patient Safety & Medicines Quality, Health System Infrastructure - Development of Physical Infrastructure, Health System Infrastructure - Outreach & Medical Services, Health System Infrastructure - Training, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach, Prevention Programs - Vaccines, Research & Development - Development of Treatments, Research & Development - Pediatric R&D

Targeted Population(s) Children, Marginalised / Indigenous People, Mothers, People with low income, Women

Region(s) East Asia & Pacific, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 3

Country(ies) India, Kenya, Vietnam

Start Date 2007

More information Novartis Social Ventures

Anticipated completion date Ongoing