Novartis and its partners reinforce commitment to cardiovascular health through the Unblocked Movement in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa

03 May 2024 | Friday | News

Since its establishment in 2023, the Unblocked Movement, which was co-created by Novartis and its healthcare ecosystem partners, has worked to promote better heart health in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMA) to help tackle the number one killer in the region: Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). The Movement continues to gain momentum through both local and regional initiatives and educational efforts to remove barriers for heart health for millions of people
Image Source : Public Domain

Image Source : Public Domain

  • The Unblocked Movement, which is co-created by Novartis and partners to bring patients, their loved ones, healthcare professionals and healthcare systems together in a shared mission to “unblock” barriers to heart health, continues in 2024.
  • Now in its second year, the Unblocked APMA Challenge, held from April 15 – May 13, seeks to inspire thousands of Novartis employees in over 30 markets to take action towards better heart health for themselves, their family and friends.
  • Under the Care Unblocked pillar of the Movement, Novartis is engaging healthcare professionals to unblock barriers to better standard of care at the 28th Asian Pacific Society of Cardiology Congress (APSC), held in conjunction with the 15th Annual Emirates Cardiac Society Congress (ECS), from May 2 - 4 in Dubai.

Driving behavioral change in employees for better heart health


As part of the Unblocked Movement, Novartis kicked off its 2024 Unblocked APMA Challenge, a friendly competition to engage Novartis employees across the APMA region to prioritize their heart health through physical activities and healthy living.


Now in its second year, the Challenge started on April 15 and will run until May 13, 2024. More than 2,000 Novartis employees have registered and are taking on the Challenge to promote an active, healthy lifestyle, using a social fitness app called GoJoe to track their physical activity. They are also encouraged to share the importance of heart health with their family, friends and broader network.


Last year, the Challenge saw more than 1,500 employee participation, with 260 teams formed and over 45,000 physical activities recorded during the four-week period.


Ruth Kuguru, Executive Director of Communications and Patient Advocacy, APMA, Novartis said, “I’m excited to run the Unblocked Challenge for heart health in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa region for a second year. As a global healthcare company committed to extending and improving people’s lives, Novartis is proud of our ongoing commitment to ‘unblock’ barriers to heart health, not only with our employees but with key stakeholders including patients, healthcare professionals, and healthcare systems. At Novartis, we recognize the need for sustained partnerships across our healthcare ecosystem to bring about broader access and better care and prevention. We are collaborating with our key stakeholders under the Movement’s three pillars – Life Unblocked with patients, Care Unblocked with healthcare professionals, and Nation Unblocked with healthcare systems. Partnership efforts to co-create actions and solutions to improve cardiovascular health in our communities are our key priority and will continue through the Unblocked Movement and beyond.”


Novartis promotes better standard of care at APSC-ECS 2024


According to a recent report from the Asia-Pacific Cardiovascular Disease Alliance, of which Novartis is a founding partner, CVD deaths make up 35% of all deaths in Asia alone, and 58% of global CVD deaths occur in the region.[1] Similarly, in the Middle East and North Africa region, CVD is also the number one killer, causing over a third of all deaths.[2] This is in spite of the fact that 80% of deaths related to heart attacks and strokes are preventable.[3]


Dr. Wael Almahmeed, Consultant Cardiologist, Board Member of the Emirates Cardiac Society, and the Co-Chair of the organizing committee of APSC-ECS 2024 said, “Globally, there are more deaths as a result of poor heart health than any other condition or disease. There needs to be a greater sense of urgency to address CVD in more innovative ways to reduce related mortality. Knowing that 8 out of 10 of CVD related deaths could actually be prevented should compel us into action.”


At the APSC-ECS 2024 Congress taking place in Dubai from May 2- 4, Novartis will host two symposia for the healthcare professionals and medical community. An important pillar of the Unblocked Movement is Care Unblocked, which focuses on supporting cardiologists and other healthcare professionals in their efforts to ‘unblock’ barriers and improve the standard of care for heart health.


Date: May 3, 2024 (Friday)

“Breaking Barriers in ASCVD Management“, 13:45 – 14:30


Date: May 4, 2024 (Saturday)

“Uncovering a Hidden Player in ASCVD: Lp(a)”, 12:45 – 13:30



The Unblocked Movement sees success across the region


In addition to Novartis’ drive to enable employees to improve their heart health, the Unblocked Movement has also seen numerous partnerships forged since its inception, which have positively impacted heart health in the region.


In India, a group of Unblocked ambassadors and patient advocates of CVD rallied together to form the Heart Health India Foundation (HHIF), the first-ever cardiovascular patient organization in India. 


“Despite cardiovascular disease being the number one cause of death for Indians, until the establishment of the Heart Health India Foundation, there was no active patient organization helping to voice the concerns and needs of millions of Indians impacted by the disease. The creation of the Foundation has given us a platform to work towards unblocking barriers to heart health in India with partners such as Novartis.” shared Ram Khandelwal, Founder, Heart Health India Foundation and Unblocked Movement Ambassador.


Through the Unblocked Movement, Novartis is also working with a variety of key stakeholders including public health organizations to advocate for heart disease prevention. In Korea. Novartis is partnering with the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Korean Society of Interventional Cardiology to roll out a public education program on dyslipidemia prevention and management and provide metabolic syndrome and LDL-c testing at 28 corporate workplaces in Seoul this year. This is one of the key initiatives under the tripartite Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2023.


In UAE, Novartis is collaborating with influencers to leverage social media to educate and raise awareness on the importance of cholesterol screening and knowing your numbers and risk factors. In addition, they have also launched the Heart Health Unblocked: Employer Awareness Program running educational and screening programs in collaboration with employers across the UAE.


Novartis, together with its healthcare ecosystem partners, is committed to transforming cardiovascular health and to leading a generational decline of CVD-related deaths.

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