To find the answers to this important strategic question we should turn to the Aurum Institute’s vision and mission, which has recently been revised. Nelson Mandel said that “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” The significance of organisations is similarly determined by the difference they make to the lives of others. Nelson Mandela also said that “Contrary to popular wisdom, companies from the fringes of the [world’s] economy can become global players. What they need is organisational confidence, a clear strategy, a passion for learning, and the leadership to bring these factors together” The time has come for non-governmental organisations from high disease burden, resource-poor countries to take on a global health leadership role in improving the health of the poor. The Aurum Institute draws inspiration from Nelson Mandela and through its vision seeks to make a difference in the lives of the poor globally.
"An internationally respected organization, rooted in Africa, that is a global leader in improving the health of poor communities."
In my last year’s address, I spoke of Aurum’s 100-year vision. In order to achieve our 100-year vision, Aurum needs to develop a strategy for sustainable growth that is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The aims of the SDGs are broad and include the eradication of poverty and ending the epidemics of AIDS, TB, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 2030. Given that globally TB now accounts for more deaths than HIV and the public health crisis of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, many people express surprise that NCDs should be a concern in developing countries. Yet the burden of NCDs in many developing countries is increasing due to development, increased consumption of unhealthy diets, urbanisation and reduced physical activity. Furthermore, the emergence of NCDs is occurring at a rate which health systems in resource-poor countries are not able to cope with and households affected by NCD often suffer catastrophic costs and impoverishment.
In order to ensure sustainable growth of Aurum, it is appropriate that we consider moving from a public health perspective focused only on South Africa and TB and HIV to a global health perspective with an expanded geographic scope and disease profile. Further justification for the expanded scope is a change in funding priorities from country specific to regional or global grants and from HIV and TB to non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health.
Taki Skouras, co-founder and CEO of international wireless accessories retailer Cellairis said that "An organisation should have a strong team solely focused on international growth that is ready to face challenges and fully support the expansion," This is sound advice and Aurum will, therefore, need to revise its structure, ensure dedicated funding and establish strategic partnerships to ensure focused commitment to international growth. Aurum will also need to draw on its competitive advantages in order to compete for funding in other countries and regionally. Aurum has a strong track record of managing large grants and consortiums, has unique skills in conducting investigator-initiated research to evaluate TB host directed and preventive therapies and TB/HIV implementation research. Aurum also has a unique Management Development Programme (MDP) that was custom designed for primary health care managers and a world class Quality Improvement (QI) programme for health facilities. Both the MDP and QI programmes use onsite training and mentorship to support adoption of the programmes.
I am confident that by going global will contribute to the sustainable growth of Aurum. The next few years will bring exciting opportunities and many challenges as we embark on our journey of becoming a global organisation.
Prof. Gavin Churchyard
Chief Executive Officer