Pfizer’s IGLC expands tobacco cessation efforts globally

This summer Pfizer’s IGLC partnered with Global Bridges to select and award independent-grant funding to 20 organizations around the world, working to increase tobacco cessation rates through healthcare professional training and advocacy.  These grants represent the first major international funding focused on tobacco dependence treatment in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).)   This is a global health priority because according to the World Health Organization currently more than 80% of the world’s one billion smokers live in LMICs and tobacco use is also fastest-growing in these countries.

We are pleased to be able to provide financial support to these healthcare professional training programs whose proposals received the highest reviewer-scores in a very competitive field of applicants, and we are proud to be associated with the amazing and dedicated people who are part of the Global Bridges network.

Recently, our independent grants team, which is part of the Medical Division at Pfizer, completed the final internal – steps required before a payment could be sent to the last of the grantees.  This partner-project resulted in the largest set of global grants we have awarded as a U.S.-based team, and I know I at least did not completely realize the complexity of meeting the highest standards as required by the global regulations, as well as the challenging logistics involved in sending payments to foreign countries in terms of exchange rates and extra taxes and fees.  I send a big thank you to my colleagues at Pfizer for the operational excellence and to the grantee organizations for their patience throughout the process.

Since 2007, the goal of our smoking cessation grants program at Pfizer has been:  To increase the number of patients who stop smoking by improving the frequency and effectiveness of smoking cessation intervention, including counseling and support, by healthcare providers.  Most of the grant-funded projects have been in the U.S. and we have seen significant success in terms of evidence-based improvements in clinical practices and documented increases in the numbers of patients who are supported in their efforts to quit smoking.

Interesting anecdotal feedback came from one physician who realized that his patients did actually listen to him when he talked to them about the negative health effects of smoking.  He always thought his advice was not getting through until he completed one of the grant-supported educational initiatives and his improved motivational- interviewing skills prompted several of his patients to try to quit.  Healthcare professionals should know and be encouraged that patients do listen to your advice and very often want your help to set healthier lifestyle goals.

Globally, there is so much work to be done to reduce tobacco dependence and improve health.  Our grants program will continue to focus on the role of the healthcare professional in helping patients to quit.  Together with all the other global programs, tobacco-prevention policies, and public health education, we are confident we can make a difference.

About the Author: Jacqueline Waldrop is the director of Independent Grants for Learning & Change (IGLC) at Pfizer, Inc.