With nearly 100,000 people across the world, the reach of our Roche family is global, but our actions are local. Across continents and communities, we are partnering with governments, agencies and organisations large and small to overcome a worldwide health crisis in distinctly local ways. Our common goal is an urgency to stop the spread of the virus and help those impacted by the pandemic. Together, we are stronger than COVID-19.
When COVID-19 cases started, some healthcare workers in Singapore were shunned by a section of the public because of fear of spreading the virus. Responding to a government call, Roche employees distributed over 10,000 packs of fruits. The vitamin C-rich produce helped frontline workers build their immunity, and they were able to share with their families, who they were not getting much time with.
Roche employees worked four-hour shifts to answer calls on the Ministry of Health hotline.They shared updated information about measures taken by the government, health institutions and regions to minimise the spread of the virus. These measures changed frequently and required extra agility from volunteers, who say they were moved by personal stories the callers shared.
Hospitals requested personal protective equipment as a result of cross-infection in one local hospital. Roche Vietnam worked with two of the main hospitals treating COVID-19 cases to supply 1100 sets of protective gear for frontline health staff. Over one weekend, 20 employees, along with family members, volunteered to make 1000 face shields and shared them with healthcare workers.
The Roche team in Ecuador trained eight medical experts to support the government's national healthcare phone line. This helped identify individuals at risk and guide patients to testing, advice them on going to hospital or staying at home. So far they have answered over 2000 phone calls on this emergency line.
When COVID-19 hit, the Marie Keating Foundation in Ireland, faced difficulties in maintaining their support services. The Roche team helped them turn their traditionally in-person services into digital services. Their Positive Living group for people affected by metastatic disease has since held their first ever online meeting, moderated by a nurse. One of the virtual meetings was organised into a "Give your coffee for cancer" coffee morning, with each member donating the cost they would on lunch and coffee to the Foundation.
Chinese cancer patients found it difficult to access treatment facilities during the COVID-19 lockdown. Roche China, together with the China Anti-Cancer Association (CACA), launched the “Kapok Program.” The one-stop medical information platform provides up-to-date information on more than 550 hospitals and 2,700 infusion centres in 300 Chinese cities.
Strict COVID-19 quarantine measures in Manila meant cancer patients couldn't take public transport to their appointments, with reports of one person walking 14km to get treatment. This impacted over 75% of cancer patients enrolled in Roche Philippines' access programme. Roche partnered with two service providers to provide free transport for patients to collect medicines and keep their appointments.
Ciara, a UK pharmacist, went to the NHS and told them she wanted to volunteer in any capacity. The staff were grateful for this little support that she could offer them around her full-time job. On the first day, she found herself crossing the dispensary boundary for the first time in five years. She worked to unpack deliveries, assemble prescriptions and operate the till.
For lung cancer patients there can be confusion between the symptoms of COVID-19, such as a cough, and the concern of potential disease progression. In an effort to ease the emotional struggle between the two diseases, colleagues in Hong Kong partnered with the Maggie Cancer Centre to provide physiotherapist led support services, including an online lung exercise video. And to lift spirits, some fun Little Lung WhatsApp stickers #Stayhome #Wearamask.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased blood demand, leading to a supply crisis that is tied to the current social distancing and stay-at-home measures. In response, Roche teams across Latin America came together to meet this need.
Peru is among the Latin American countries most affected since the outbreak. To alleviate the local health system, Roche partnered with Smart Doctor, an initiative launched by the Ministry of Health, that provides telehealth services to the general population. With over 1800 physicians who support around 200 to 300 patients per day, expecting to reach one million per month, Smart Doctor and Roche Peru are also working to provide support to communities in remote areas through personalised chats and video calls.