Healthcare is a top priority of an aging society, this industry is key in the development of innovative treatments to address society’s needs and to foster better health, for longer and healthier lives. COVID-19 only made this clearer. With a global scale and deep understanding of healthcare needs, the pharma sector has a duty to contribute to a common goal: reducing inequalities and disparities in access to health and medicines.
One moment that particularly touched me, as a teenage science student, was when Portuguese scientist Professor Odette Ferreira discovered HIV type 2 virus. The understanding of a virus is always a great milestone for drugs discovery. As a Pharmacist student, I then volunteered for a few years to participate in one of the biggest projects ever done in Portugal to fight HIV. A period where I have observed closely profound human suffering and the power of communities collaborating to create better access to health. Many years later, as Country President for Portugal at Novartis, I have led the organization during a difficult financial crisis, but at the same time, we were able to continue serving the country. Despite the huge pressure the industry had undergone, Novartis was resilient and passionate to invest in the country and continue to attract clinical trials and innovation to serve patients. These two unforgettable experiences are a reflection of my commitment to serve society
I am very proud of the culture and team we have built in Portugal, able to boldly pioneer innovative projects, with many examples scaled to other countries. The talents developed over the past years, embracing new opportunities, even moving abroad to pursue international careers, is another great source of motivation as unleashing the power of people and helping people’s development is one of my main purposes.
The future is bright. Data and digital offer a tremendous opportunity for the pharmaceutical business model transformation, as a source of innovation in R&D, new technologies, catalyzers and facilitators of access to better healthcare, as efficiency enablers of internal processes and in new engagement models with stakeholders. A new wave of innovation and an immense progress in advanced platforms that enable the cure of diseases that had no hope before is now emerging. For this to reach society as a whole, innovation has to be taken onto regulatory, access and healthcare policies.
I feel inspired to ‘be the change we want to see in the world. My personal recent moto is ‘Let’s Go’, meaning to let go what does not serve anymore, so that the focus is on what really matters and needs a change; and move on (Let’s Go) together with those that can and want to make the difference.
Daughter of pharmacists and a granddaughter of teachers, Cristina has always been inspired by a passion for health and education as main vehicles of prosperity. She has studied Pharmaceutical Sciences in Lisbon and London and did a Masters in business administration (MBA) at the Lisbon MBA (Católica|Nova|MIT). She has been leading Novartis as Country President since 2012, accumulating, since 2021, the function as Head Integrated Access Programs & Markets at Novartis Global Health.