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«We want to give back to society more»

Isabel Dalli, Head of Sponsoring and Donations, Novartis
Isabel Dalli, Head of Sponsoring and Donations, Novartis

Healthcare in rural areas of Bangladesh is inadequate. With the support of Novartis, the SDC, City of Zürich, Evi Diethelm-Winteler Foundation, Julius Bär Foundation, and Laguna Foundation, and in collaboration with the local authorities, Swisscontact has developed a two-year training course for so-called “community paramedics”. These healthcare professionals improve basic medical care in villages. At the same time, becoming a community paramedic is an attractive professional opportunity for young people. Isabel Dalli, Head of Sponsoring and Donations at Novartis, paid a visit to the project in autumn 2019.

During your project visit you met with community paramedics and various project partners such as training institutes. What surprised you? Did the visit change your image of the project?
Isabel Dalli: Because I was visiting the project for the very first time, I wanted to prepare myself as best I could. I read everything I could find on Bangladesh in general, but I only began to gain a significant understanding once I was there. It is only in discussions and meetings in the field that we learn about the circumstances, situation, and the divide between reality and what we are usually shown. My image of the project has changed to the extent that now I have a better understanding of various issues that such a project must deal with. For example, what time expense is needed and how we can offer sustainable help.

Why is Novartis supporting this project?
ASTHA is a sustainable project aiming to strengthen healthcare at a grassroots level, i.e. on a very basic – we could even say even existential – level. For Novartis the project, therefore, is so attractive because it aligns with our most important strategic priority: we want to give more to society. There are many ways to do this, and ASTHA is one very good example for how to fulfil this ambition.

Swisscontact’s core themes include promoting gainful employment and income through hands-on training and improved access to the job market, in addition to fostering entrepreneurship. Healthcare, however, is not one of our focus areas. Why is Swisscontact then a suitable partner for Novartis in this project?
We believe today that structural and international development projects should be implemented systemically with a focus on sustainability. The objective is not to generate perpetual dependency on the foundation, but instead to facilitate self-help and foster long-term stability. All the points you reference such as employment, regular income, access to the labour market, etc. can be achieved in needy communities only if a healthy foundation has been laid. We believe that Swisscontact is capable of implementing this assistance successfully, and are happy to provide our support.

Novartis receives so many appeals for support. Which request for aid would you like to see on your desk?
I have been in charge of Sponsoring and Donations at Novartis for nearly 12 years now. Over time my colleagues and I have received all sorts of requests for funding. What is important here is that each of us vets each request impartially. If myself or my staff were to have preconceived expectations for all the incoming requests, then we would not be taking our jobs seriously. Instead, all funding requests are checked equitably and processed accordingly. The result is a balanced portfolio of all kinds of assistance projects reflecting the mission and strategic priorities of our company.

Isabel Dalli has her blood pressure tested by a community paramedic. Health camp in Nilphamari district, Bangladesh
Isabel Dalli has her blood pressure tested by a community paramedic. Health camp in Nilphamari district, Bangladesh

Thanks to our project partners

Public Partners

Private Partners

Knowledge Partners


Swisscontact gives its sincerest thanks for the donations and project contributions received in 2019 (donations of 500 Swiss francs or more).


Abnox AG, Agathon AG, ASBS (Pte) Ltd, BDO AG, Bjorg & Compagnie, CE SAIN, CIMMYT, CIRAD, Max Ditting AG, Otto Mathys AG, PricewaterhouseCoopers AG, Prowald & Partner GmbH, Scherler AG, Schweizerische Nationalbank, WSP W. Schefer + Partner, Zürcher Kantonalbank



Charlotte André-Stiftung, Christa Foundation, Christian Bachschuster Stiftung, COFRA Foundation, Dr. Guido und Frederika Turin Stiftung, Ernst Göhner Stiftung, Fondation Manpower SA, Fondation Tibetania, Gebauer Stiftung, Steinegg Stiftung, Stiftung Corymbo, Stiftung Drittes Millennium, Stiftung für praktische Berufsbildung, The Social Entrepreneurs Charitable Foundation, U.W.LINSI-STIFTUNG, Uniscientia Stiftung, Von Duhn Stiftung, Werner und Helga Degen Stiftung


Communes, towns and cantons

Kanton Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Gemeinde Baar, Kanton Basel-Stadt, Gemeinde Bottmingen, Kanton Glarus, Gemeinde Gossau, Gemeinde Küsnacht, Kanton Luzern, Gemeinde Maur, Gemeinde Muri bei Bern, Kanton Obwalden, Gemeinde Riehen, Gemeinde Rüschlikon, Stadt Schlieren, Kanton Schwyz, Gemeinde Uitikon-Waldegg, Gemeinde Zollikon



Römisch-katholische Kirchgemeinde Burgdorf, Römisch-katholische Kirchgemeinde Horgen, Reformierte Kirchgemeinde Küsnacht, Römisch-katholische Kirchgemeinde Münchenstein, Römisch-katholische Kirchgemeinde Uster, Evangelisch-reformierte Kirchgemeinde Wallisellen, Verband der stadtzürcherischen evangelisch-reformierten Kirchgemeinden



We also would like to thank all individuals most sincerely who have given us their support in 2019.



Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation
Hardturmstrasse 123
CH-8005 Zurich

Tel. +41 44 454 17 17
Fax +41 44 454 17 97
E-Mail info@STOP-SPAM.swisscontact.org