Interview of Deborah Dunsire, CEO of Lundbeck on the partnership with International Health Partners (IHP)



Q: What does Lundbeck do?

A: We are a Denmark-based, global pharmaceutical company specializing in brain diseases. We are one of the only pharmaceutical companies in the world focusing exclusively on brain diseases, and we’re set apart by our specialization. We are tirelessly dedicated to restoring brain health, so every person can be their best.  Every day, we strive to further understand these diseases, develop the best therapies to treat them and make a difference to people living with them.


Q: What are the mental health issues facing people living in low-income countries? Are they particularly vulnerable and if so, why?

A: Access to treatment and services for mental health is an element of healthcare provision often overlooked and unequal in who it serves.

The socio-economic determinants of health include social and economic factors that have an influence on an individual’s mental health. There is a strong association between childhood adversity, social disadvantages and poor mental health, especially as most mental health disorders emerge in adolescence and young adulthood.

We also know that a worse economic status is associated with adverse mental health outcomes, including suicide and psychosis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also disrupted health services around the world, with those living in disaster-hit and vulnerable communities hardest hit. According to the WHO, more than 120 countries saw one or more of their mental, neurological and substance use services disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with outpatient and community-based services predominantly more affected.

The WHO states that a combined psychosocial and pharmacological approach is likely to yield the best results when treating mental health disorders. This is irrespective of where you live. The fragility of primary health care systems, and the lack of specialized psychiatric healthcare professionals in low-income countries in particular are a big challenges. To improve mental health for all, greater investment in, and greater access to treatment and care are needed in the long run. We need to work in partnerships to each do our part.


Q: Why is it so important that people living with mental health disorders seek help? (what are the knock on effects)

A: Mental health disorders are serious and can be life-threatening diseases that compromise people’s ability to live and work normally. Mental health has profound effects on an individual’s quality of life and physical and social wellbeing. Alarmingly, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there is a 10-25-year life expectancy reduction in people with severe mental health disorders. Early intervention in mental health care is crucial, and the chances of recovery significantly increase when adequate care and treatment is provided early.


Q: Why do you choose to work with IHP?

A: Working closely with their network of NGOs in-country, IHP is able to facilitate and respond to the specific medical needs of some of the world’s most vulnerable communities who would otherwise have no access to this kind of treatment, without compromising Lundbeck’s high standards for patient safety.

Through this partnership, Lundbeck and IHP hope to raise awareness of mental health as well as provide vital access to underserved communities and offer much-needed support to those living with mental health disorders.


Q: How are donated medicines playing a part in the wider landscape of addressing mental health diseases?

Having recently launched our new Access to Brain Health strategy we wish to take additional actions to address discriminatory, physical, economic, and informational barriers to make safe and efficacious brain disease treatments more accessible. We work through a number of initiatives to address affordability, education of primary health care professionals, and healthcare system strengthening. Donation of products is one of the ways we work to reduce the burden of inequality and provide appropriate assistance to people who depend upon treatment and necessary medications.


Q: How can people do more to help those suffering from mental health issues?

A: Lundbeck is a proud supporter of World Mental Health Day (WMHD) for a number of years. This is one of the ways we encourage everyone to acquire and spread awareness of mental health. Stigmatization of mental health disorders remains a widespread issue. In fact, stigma against mental health disorders is a major cause of discrimination and exclusion in many parts of the world.

So, if you want to help, you can join one of the many online and physical events in connection with World Mental Health Day on October 10 and help us eliminate stigma.


At IHP, we work to provide medications to support mental health in countries such as Palestine and Lebanon read more here