The SNF Health Initiative
Encompassing more than 25 constituent projects, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Health Initiative aims to expand access to health services, strengthen quality of care for all, and empower providers on the front lines. The global Health Initiative, whose budget exceeds $750 million, is carried out with exclusive support from SNF and based on wide-ranging collaborations in Greece and worldwide.
How the Health Initiative Came About
In 2016, SNF began investigating areas of possible support for public health in Greece. Building on its global grantmaking in the area of health since 1996, SNF engaged experts to identify and map community needs and held dedicated discussions with the Greek state. As an outcome of the latter, in September 2017, SNF officially announced its intention to support in full a series of major projects to enhance the country’s public health sector.
On March 21, 2018, SNF and the Greek state signed a memorandum of understanding that marked the start of the SNF Health Initiative. In Greece, the Health Initiative is founded on an extensive public-private partnership between SNF, the Hellenic Ministry of Health, and other competent bodies of the Greek state, and each of its constituent projects will be handed over to the Greek public as it is completed. As specified in Greek law, the Health Initiative S.A. serves as the special-purpose vehicle set up by SNF to facilitate the coordination and operationalization of these projects as well as an implementation process that is transparent and participatory at every stage.
Starting in 2021, SNF embarked on a series of new partnerships marking the expansion of the Health Initiative beyond Greece. In keeping with the spirit and values of the SNF Health Initiative in Greece, these international partnerships are meant to strengthen essential health sector infrastructure as well as leverage expertise from renowned organizations—leaders in their respective fields—to expand quality care and facilitate knowledge exchange at a global scale. This international expansion represents a commitment to pioneering and innovative work across a wide range of fields of global significance and scale, including state-of-the-art and forward-thinking health care delivery, mental health, infectious diseases, and more.
Health Initiative Projects
The SNF Health Initiative projects are broadly organized under the following categories:
The Health Initiative’s infrastructure projects in Greece include the design, construction, and outfitting of three new state-of-the-art hospitals in Komotini, Thessaloniki, and Sparta, as well as major infrastructure expansion and renovation projects at large public hospitals in Athens, including Attikon and Evangelismos Hospitals. The SNF Health Initiative also supported the creation of the new Pediatric Cancer Center at Sant Joan de Déu Children’s Hospital in Barcelona.
The SNF Health Initiative is supporting a series of projects aimed at ensuring that health care professionals have enhanced tools available for in their daily work: from the procurement of two new helicopters and two new planes to strengthen the National Center for Emergency Care’s EKAV’s national air ambulance services in Greece, to the procurement and installation of PET/CTs for four University Hospitals across Greece, to dental chairs and simulators for the School of Dentistry at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, and a nurse call system and other medical equipment for Evangelismos Hospital in Athens.
Training, Knowledge Exchange, and Partnerships
Educational programs are at the core of the Health Initiative’s effort to empower medical staff, focusing on offering new and specially tailored training opportunities. This stream of support covers nurse training programs at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens as well as Evangelismos Hospital; infection control and prevention trainings focusing on hospital-acquired infections and antimicrobial resistance working together with 10 of the largest public hospitals across Greece; trauma management for doctors, nurses, surgeons, medical and nursing students, emergency responders, and primary healthcare providers; and intensive care training for physician and nurses in intensive care units and related specialties.
Internationally, the SNF Health Initiative is establishing partnership with Johns Hopkins Medicine International which will leverage institution’s leadership and expertise to inform hospital operations, medical education and exchange, and clinical program development at the three new SNF hospitals. Finally, SNF has partnered with the King Hussein Cancer Foundation and Center in Jordan to help expand access to pediatric cancer care and holistic family support for those in need.
With a vision for improving the lives of children and youth and helping catalyze sector-wide transformations in how child mental health care is delivered in Greece, in 2021 the Health Initiative launched the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Initiative (CAMHI), an ambitious five-year program in partnership with the U.S.-based Child Mind Institute (CMI) and a country-wide network of child mental health professionals. The aim is to enhance mental health care capacity and strengthen the infrastructure for the prevention, assessment, and treatment of mental health struggles faced during childhood and adolescence. Relatedly, the SNF Health Initiative is also supporting renovations at the Paidon Agia Sofia Children’s Hospital in Athens to host collaborations and services under the CAMHI.
The SNF Health Initiative has substantially expanded its support for mental health initiatives internationally. Building on and deeply informed by the CAMHI’s efforts in Greece, a new partnership with the Child Mind Institute will establish the SNF Global Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health at the Child Mind Institute. It will focus on growing strategic partnerships with mental health professionals and empowering the next generation of leaders worldwide, while supporting and enabling ground-up local initiatives in many countries and regions.
Additionally, the new SNF Center for Precision Psychiatry at Columbia University will leverage genomics, neuroscience, and epidemiology to develop highly efficacious personalized psychiatric care. Through all of these efforts, expanding equitable access to quality mental healthcare remains a key priority.
SNF has also launched a new five-year partnership with the National Children’s Alliance (NCA) to expand access to trauma-informed therapy for children who have been victims of abuse in the US.
Science, Technology, and Innovation
A series of partnerships further expands SNF’s commitment to addressing global challenges through pioneering science, technology, innovation, and outreach. Support from SNF will establish the SNF Institute for Global Infectious Disease Research at Rockefeller University in New York. Based at one of the world’s foremost centers of scientific achievement in biomedical research, the new institute will create a framework for international scientific collaborations that advance basic research, translate advancements into practical benefits for populations around the world, attract and empower the next generation of scientific leaders, and establish partnerships that can respond quickly to emerging threats and endemic pathogens.
Exclusive support from SNF is also provided for a Hellenic Cooperative Oncology Group (HeCOG) study, CLIMEDIN, which is investigating cutting-edge personalized therapy for cancer patients. The SNF Health Initiative also supports the Engineering Humanitarian Action (HAC) Initiative, a partnership between the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zürich's ETH for Development, the EssentialTech Center at EPF Lausanne, and the International Committee of the Red Cross which incubates technological innovations that improve service delivery to populations affected by humanitarian crises who often experience unique challenges accessing health care.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Bioethics Academy (SNFBA), launched in 2019 with exclusive support from SNF, aims to expand awareness of bioethics in Greece through participatory, intensive workshops on timely ethical questions. SNFBA is organized through a partnership between the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University and the Bioethics Chair at ETH Zürich.
The SNF Health Initiative’s Commitment
The SNF Health Initiative prioritizes community engagement: Health Initiative projects are founded on an approach by SNF that aims to identify and address community and national healthcare needs through a transparent, multi-stakeholder consultative process entailing active engagement of relevant end users and community groups along the way. To this end, for Health Initiative projects in Greece, SNF has put in place a number of platforms and activities such as the Special Advisory Committee, which comprises all relevant state actors and meets monthly to take stock of progress, discuss emerging issues, and exchange ideas. Additionally, in a broader effort to keep the Greek public informed about the progress of the Health Initiative, the SNF publishes Quarterly Updates with the latest information and detailed reporting for each project. As part of the creation of the three hospitals, SNF holds Town Hall Meetings every six months in the cities where they’re being built—Komotini, Thessaloniki, and Sparta—organized as open events in collaboration with the respective municipalities.
The SNF Health Initiative builds on a history of grantmaking in the health sector: The Health Initiative follows on the heels of a series of SNF grants totaling more than $145 million for the support of health programs in Greece, which include, among others, a $15 million SNF grant to the National Center for Emergency Care (EKAV) for the procurement of 143 state-of-the-art ambulances. Past support in the health sector also includes a $23 million grant for the replacement of ten aging linear accelerators in seven public hospitals around the country, a grant for the renovation of all Pediatric Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in Greece, as well as a grant for the construction and outfitting of hostels to provide accommodation for the relatives of people being treated at hospitals around the country. In addition, SNF’s initiative for the establishment of the Mobile Medical Units, in collaboration with the nonprofit Regeneration and Progress, has yielded significant results in providing health care to residents of islands and remote areas in Greece.
SNF emergency support to the health sector deepened during the COVID-19 pandemic: A significant portion of SNF’s $100 million global COVID-19 relief initiative went toward supporting Greece’s health sector, as well as health responses around the world. This includes grants totaling over $30 million for the creation of facilities to add 175 new beds in intensive care units (ICU) and high-dependency units at 15 public hospitals across Greece, the introduction of a five-year training program for health professionals on intensive care, direct support for hospital staff on the front lines of the pandemic, the expansion and continuation of the 10306 Psychosocial Support Helpline for COVID-19, and the procurement of two molecular testing systems and 240,000 units of reagent to significantly increase Greece’s daily testing capacity.