Expert Series: A Vision of Health Equity and Inclusion for All

(BPT) - By Robert Tompkins, Group VP and General Merchandise Manager for Health & Wellness, Walgreens

Call me an optimist, but I'd like to believe - even in the midst of the division and tension in this country - that there are more of us committed to empathy, compassion and care than you think. We must stay dedicated to causes that uplift, strengthen and encourage those who need it most.

Our mission at Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) is to help people live more joyful lives through better health. Notice that I said 'joyful lives' instead of 'happy lives.' Happiness is fleeting and is dependent on circumstances. Joy is deeper and reflects an overall sense of wellness and peace. But not everyone has that, especially when faced with health challenges.

The Centers for Disease Control defines health equity as the opportunity to be as healthy as possible through equal access to care and distribution of healthcare resources. When policies, programs and systems that support health are equitable, poor health outcomes can be reduced, health disparities can be prevented, and the whole of society benefits. That's why WBA is committed to engaging with local communities to improve societal health and well-being. We have set up programs and campaigns to improve access to affordable, quality healthcare and awareness about critical health issues. We are listening, learning and taking decisive action with, and for, our communities to realize our vision of health equity and inclusion for all. We need to combat health care disparities and improve outcomes in these communities.

That's why in 2013, Walgreens began its partnership with Vitamin Angels, an organization that has always had a profound effect on me because of the vital work they do. Vitamin Angels is a global public health nonprofit organization distributing vitamins and minerals to underserved pregnant women and children in the U.S. and around the world.

Through our eight-year partnership with Vitamin Angels, we have helped to improve the lives of more than 300 million women and children. We are reaching women and children in 65 countries, every U.S. state and Puerto Rico. Walgreens Boots Alliance and our suppliers have donated one percent of select vitamin and supplement retail sales to support Vitamin Angels' outreach efforts to communities in need across the U.S. and globally. In 2021, that amounted to $12.4 million donated.

We are also helping locally. In our home city of Chicago, we are partnering with more than 35 community-based organizations to distribute vouchers for free prenatal vitamins for pregnant women in need. Vouchers may be redeemed at 16 stores located on the West and South Sides of Chicago. To date, over 2,200 vouchers have been distributed.

Together with Vitamin Angels we are proud to keep pushing toward our new goal to reach 500 million women and children by the end of fiscal 2025. None of this work could get done without the dedication and compassion of our customers. They have helped us provide life-changing vitamins to children and expectant mothers at-risk for malnutrition around the world. I am excited about the next major milestone that we will hit with Vitamin Angels.

We will continue to fight and do all we can so that anyone we touch, in our stores and through our partnerships, has the potential of a healthy future. I encourage others to become involved to make a difference. By simply shopping for multivitamins, sleep aids, and joint health products, you're helping to provide for those in need. Together, we can better the lives of women and children at home and around the world.

For more information about our work with Vitamin Angels, download WBA's fiscal 2021 ESG Report.

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