Working to improve the lives of Israel’s disadvantaged and hidden communities

Behind the

How Teva is working with some of the most underprivileged people in the world to help them access the medicines they need.

Almost 2 billion of the world’s most vulnerable people don’t have access to basic medicines. Some of these people, seeking asylum far from home, are not citizens, have not received refugee status and have no rights to social, economic, or healthcare services in the countries where they reside.

According to recent figures from the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, in Israel there are over 68,000 displaced and stateless people (those not considered as a national by any state). Data from the Population and Immigration Authority records 25,500 asylum seekers living in Israel, mainly from Eritrea and Sudan.

“In Israel, our citizens contribute through taxes to a national health service that entitles them to medical treatment. But when you have people who are refugees or asylum seekers, they are legally not citizens and are not entitled to access the existing national medical systems. So that’s a major problem.”

Dr Gabriel Polliack is a founding member of Naavat David (NGO) and sits on the executive management team. The organization was set up to promote emergency medicine in the community, including for disadvantaged populations. Together with Terem Emergency Centers, one of Israel’s largest providers of urgent ambulatory care, where Dr Pollicak is Director of Strategic Planning, they make quality emergency care accessible to asylum seekers and vulnerable communities.

One such center is in Tel Aviv, in the heart of the immigrant district, providing health services to those who don’t qualify for national medical coverage. As well as emergency care, the clinic also provides primary and secondary medical care in the areas of pediatrics, gynecology, cardiology and more, all provided by volunteer medical staff.

 To support this treatment, Teva supplies free medications, prescribed by the clinic and available from a local pharmacy. The program has been in place since February 2022, and each month between 300 and 400 patients receive essential medication through it. 

Avi Yelinek is the Chairman of Naavat David, a former police officer, who now volunteers his time to work with vulnerable people. 

“This program is making a difference in people’s lives. Formerly they didn’t have the ability to buy medicines, now they only have to walk about 500 meters from the clinic to the pharmacy to pick up their prescriptions. It’s a much better situation for them.”

As well as supporting physical health, it is vital to support mental health for this community, as many have endured, and continue to endure, great hardship and upheaval in their lives.

“Our patients have economic issues and mental health issues, and these are intertwined and influence each other,” says Gil Carmeli, Clinical Psychologist and Director of Ruth Mental Health Clinic for Refugees and Asylum Seekers.

Working with the Ruth Clinic, Teva provides psychiatric medicines for over 200 patients every month, including anti-depressants and medicines to treat anxiety. 

“The staff working in the clinic are mostly there for moral and ethical reasons. The clinic is part of Benafshenu, a non-profit association founded by Amcha, set up by holocaust survivors to provide psycho-social support. Many of our therapists come from families of holocaust survivors, who themselves were refugees. We have moral obligations to give treatment to those who suffer the same problems.”

Teva also works with Friends for Health in Israel, a non-governmental organization supporting vulnerable Israeli citizens, and, in total, provides up to 50 essential medicines through all its access programs.

“This is very important work for us,” says Yonina Fleischman, Teva’s ESG Access to Medicines Lead. “Not being able to access basic healthcare can lead people into a spiral of debt and create even more problems for them.”

The Israeli program is one of eight access initiatives that Teva has committed to run globally by 2025, getting medicines to more people who otherwise would not be able to access them. But Teva’s commitment to accessibility doesn’t end there. Two sustainability-linked bonds – for $5 billion and $2.5 billion - are tied to targets that include improving access to medicines, the first ever issued by a generic medicines company.

“We are delighted to work with Teva on this initiative,” says Avi Yelinek. “If you want a project like this to succeed, you need somebody to look at the big picture and implement a plan. This is what Teva has done.”


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