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For the Health of All People

A pharmaceutical company established in 1781 is approaching Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that have a strong affinity with the spirit of its founder in a very natural manner.

Since its foundation in 1781, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited has based its management on a way of thinking that puts patients at the center at all times. The company has worked on developing superior pharmaceuticals based on the idea that Takeda cannot sustain itself without the sustainability of a sound society. Its coined expression, Takeda-ism (referring to the combination of integrity, fairness, honesty and perseverance), expresses this spirit in one word. Takeda has proceeded with operational globalization one step ahead of the demands of the times. The company has also responded positively to its corporate social responsibility (CSR), the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) (see page 8-9) and other demands based on Takeda-ism as they have grown in the global community.

“Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were very easy to for us to understand and incorporate in our businesses because they have a strong affinity with Takeda-ism,” says Toshio Tamamuro, Head of Takeda’s Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs. “SDGs have freed us from the need to consider our business activities and corporate citizenship activities separately. Takeda and its stakeholders share the direction of undertaking their businesses properly to achieve the seventeen targets set under the SDGs and contributing to the global community.” Tamamuro notes that his company’s employees have continued with their initiatives up to this point in a calm, relaxed manner.

The SDG that Takeda is focusing on in particular is SDG3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Takeda is doing this because it has realized through a variety of past initiatives that prevention is essential for achieving a sustainable society. Through global CSR programs, which are its activities as a corporate citizen, the company is bolstering its support for the health of people in developing and emerging countries from the viewpoint of prevention in partnership with United Nations agencies and global NGOs. Takeda ultimately decided on the partners supported through the CSR programs by asking about 30,000 employees in Japan and overseas to vote for desirable partner candidates.

In 2016, Takeda’s employees mainly selected candidates in Asia, including the Global Measles Vaccination for Children (in partnership with the United Nations Foundation), the Community Health Workers Training for Maternal and Child Health (with the World Vision) and the Maternal and Newborn Health for Ethnic Minorities (with the Save the Children JAPAN) by employee vote.

In 2017, the company’s employees chose the Protecting the Lives of Pregnant Women in Africa (with the Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning [JOICFP]), the Holistic Support Program for Refugees from South Sudan and Syria (with the Plan International) and the First 1,000 Days: Health and Nutrition Program (with the United Nations Children’s Fund [UNICEF]) for its support by employee vote.

Each year, 5.9 million children worldwide die before their fifth birthday, due mainly to malnutrition. Forty-five percent of them die within one month of birth. Studies have shown that children become less susceptible to illnesses and that their life and growth are protected if they receive adequate nutrition and care in the first 1,000 days of life, which equals the period from the time spent in the womb until their second birthday. To address this situation, UNICEF is undertaking the First 1,000 Days program in the three African nations of Benin, Madagascar and Rwanda.

Takeda plans to donate 1 billion yen (US$9 million) in total to this UNICEF program over a period of five years from 2017 to support a total of 1.3 million mothers and children. In the area of health, for example, the company will support about 395,000 expectant and nursing mothers and 323,000 newborns in the five-year period by training health experts and increasing the level of health services in remote regions. In the area of nutrition, Takeda will support the improvement of the nutritional conditions of about 582,000 children under the age of five, their treatment and the dissemination of nutritional knowledge.

About 28 percent of all Takeda employees took part in the vote this year. Commenting on the selected programs, Hiroshi Suita, Associate Director of Takeda’s Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs, says, “I think that the results reflected the our employees’ awareness shared through their work that the health of mothers and children is a problem that should be resolved.”

The second point to which Takeda is attaching importance in its global CSR programs is how to direct the attention of its employees from voting to field sites and raise their awareness. “We are urging our employees, particularly young ones, to visit field sites as the members of a corporate citizen to raise their awareness, by telling them that they can gain skills and knowledge from books,” says Suita.

Christophe Weber, Takeda’s President & CEO, is said to have stated that actions based on a way of thinking that “puts the patient in the center, builds trust with society, reinforces our reputation and develops the business” are important. “Takeda needs action only. Our goals are the spread of the word, CSRs, within ourselves and its disappearance in the end,” says Tamamuro.

Takeda is addressing all its seventeen targets in order to be sure of achieving SDG3.