Sinit Mehtsun on Pharma’s Role in Improving Global Access and Health Equity

Gilead employee Sinit Mehtsun, Executive Director, Health Systems Engagement, says “We want to better understand barriers to receiving quality healthcare to help build more effective, long-lasting programs for people in need.”

Sinit Mehtsun

Executive Director, Health Systems Engagement
Global Patient Solutions
Location: Washington D.C.
Joined Gilead: July 2022

Sinit Mehtsun, Executive Director, Health Systems Engagement, works as part of our Global Patient Solutions team to help enable access to Gilead’s innovative medicines around the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Learn more about her work and why she believes access and health equity go together with inclusion and diversity.

Q: What drew you to your field and how did you come to work at Gilead?

I received my graduate degree from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in 2008. After gaining extensive public sector experience in health systems, policy and financing, I began wondering what else I could do to make an impact.

While speaking with people outside of my field, I realized that my experience was primarily focused on governments, and I had an opportunity to expand my areas of expertise. I began exploring other areas and landed in the pharmaceutical industry. I wasn’t ready to fully walk away from public health and community service, but Gilead’s vision and mission resonated with me and made me feel like I could continue this work in a different and perhaps more impactful way. It’s been a great match, and I’ve gained an appreciation for the private sector’s critical role in supporting public health.

I joined Gilead’s Global Patient Solutions (GPS) unit as head of Health Systems Engagement in July 2022. This new role was born out of the need to work closely with the diverse players in global health systems. Treatment is only as good as its delivery system, and COVID-19 stretched already-burdened health systems. Ultimately, we want to better understand barriers to receiving quality healthcare to help build more effective, long-lasting programs for people in need.

We need to work hand in hand with policymakers, community groups, patients and experts in each country. My role is to lead that engagement, to better tailor our programs strengthening health systems to meet each country’s unique needs and improve health outcomes.

Since joining GPS, I’ve tapped into Gilead’s expertise and resources to simultaneously play a role in helping improve health outcomes for historically underserved communities while driving tangible results for the business.

Q: Why did you choose Gilead?

I believe we all want to build a world with more understanding where everyone has an equal shot at a healthy, prosperous life – a world where access to quality healthcare isn’t a privilege, it’s a right for all.

I was inspired by Gilead’s approach to global access, and specifically, the company’s commitment to help end the HIV epidemic for everyone, everywhere. My husband and I have two young children and I imagine one day they will walk in a world where HIV is no longer a threat. We're going in the right direction, but if we don't move quickly and resolutely down that road, we could lose all the gains we've made in the first 30 years of the fight against HIV. I strongly believe Gilead is pushing us closer to this reality. That’s what drew me to Gilead.

Q: What is unique about Gilead’s approach to facilitating global access to our medicines?

Public health requires constantly finding new solutions, sometimes to the same old problems, but in many cases to new problems that emerge suddenly and require an innovative approach. Our GPS team works with partners to test different healthcare delivery methods, measure impact and learn from what works – and more importantly, what doesn’t work. We help the company think innovatively about access in low- and middle-income countries. This includes reaching people who would benefit from our innovative medicines, more consistently giving back to programs supporting communities most impacted by a high disease burden and ensuring access is always prioritized alongside other business objectives.

Q: Can you share your perspective on Gilead’s support of women employees and communities?

It’s important to recognize women trailblazers from the past for their accomplishments. Moments in time such as Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day enable us to reflect on progress we’ve made and the legacies of women from the past who continue to inspire us today.

As a working mother of a 5-year-old girl, I have hope for a future with greater gender equality. Gilead’s inclusion and diversity initiatives, including our employee resource groups, help foster the development and retention of women and other historically underrepresented groups of employees. This is important to me as a mother and as a woman of color.

I see this commitment to help create a more equitable world as being strongly tied to my own work. You can’t make progress in access and health equity initiatives without also focusing on inclusion and diversity. Prioritizing these principles in our work around the world means that we are putting a stake in the ground, elevating the importance of these values and paying attention to the benefits they provide our business – and, more importantly, the communities we serve.

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