Dominika Sefton, General Manager, Novartis Serbia And Montenegro

Access To Innovation A Priority

As an innovative healthcare company that aims to reimagine medicine in order to improve and extend people’s lives, Novartis approaches its role in addressing urgent public health needs and major health challenges with great responsibility

Novartis remains deeply committed to patients in Serbia. Our priority remains improving access to innovation, so that Serbian patients can have treatment opportunities equal to patients in EU countries, says Novartis Serbia and Montenegro General Manager Dominika Sefton.

You donated 5.4 million dinars to the Serbian healthcare system at the very start of the pandemic. Has the fight against this novel coronavirus served to unite the world a little more?

Along with ensuring the continuous supply of our medicines, our donation in response to the COVID-19 outbreak underpinned the efforts of the Serbian Government in supplying protective medical equipment for healthcare professionals.

Responding to the EFPIA’s call, Novartis is making available a set of compounds for antiviral testing and evaluating existing products to see if any could be repurposed to serve in the fight against COVID-19.

Our Serbian associates engaged in the AmCham online volunteering programme to make medical literature available to experts of the COVID-19 Crisis Team and we focused our efforts on ensuring our associates have safe and engaging working environments, through a new flexible working policy, a number of support programmes, as well as mental health and well-being resources.

Has the pandemic changed Novartis’s approach to the Serbian market?

Healthcare professionals continue to be our precious partners and we are re-imagining ways of supporting their efforts during these times and beyond, scaling-up multichannel engagements and digital technologies to provide medical information and education focused on patients’ needs.

Examples of patient focused initiatives include our support to the Institute of Rheumatology for a programme of home deliveries of biological medicines to rheumatology patients in Serbia, as well as support to patient groups’ programmes providing free transfers of patients to clinics or establishing online contacts with healthcare experts for disease management advice during the pandemic.

We look towards the future with a mindset of curiosity and an ambitious strategy. I am proud of my team’s concerted efforts to be faster than ever in bringing innovation to Serbia post-EU registration.

We are looking with great expectation towards future launches that will truly make a difference in treating patients in cardiology, multiple sclerosis and ophthalmology, along with our current portfolio. Our global advances in cell and gene therapies offer the potential to transform medicine, and I’m proud that children in Serbia with SMA, a life-threatening disease, have had an opportunity to receive our novel gene therapy. In order to deliver our ambitious long-term strategy in Serbia, this year we have introduced a new organisational design, offering our people new developmental opportunities and creating a sustainable organisation for the future.

Do women hold other important positions in the company?

At Novartis women currently account for 46% of middle management (vs. a 36% benchmark), 38% of senior management (vs. 27%) and 32% of executive management (vs. 19%). Novartis has publicly committed to achieving a gender balance in management structures for all of our associates globally by 2023. There are 20 LGBTI Employee Resource Groups and our recent global LGBTI Pride event had more than 3,000 participants from 67 countries. Novartis is a member of the ILO Global Business and Disability Network, which promotes the worldwide inclusion of people with disabilities in workplaces.

I’m proud to be part of an organisation with a culture that’s built on strong values, where ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ are embedded in our Code of Ethics, and where we ensure every day that people in my organisation feel like they are seen, heard and valued for who they are.

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