The history of our Company is closely linked to the history of India. We have completed70 years of operating in the country in various business constructs and continue to becommitted partners in India's growth story. Through all of this our commitment to thepatient community remains unwavering.
Novartis works with the patient community around the world to discovernew ways to improve and extend people's lives. Our significant investment in research anddevelopment underpins our commitment to using science-based innovation to address some ofsociety's most challenging healthcare issues. Only by working together can we improveoutcomes for patients and change the practice of medicine.
As a global company we are committed to implementing access strategies for all our newmedicines based on three principles: addressing the needs of underserved populationsthrough research and development; further improving affordability of our medicines; andstrengthening healthcare systems. We are also committed to continuing to provide tailoredand scalable access solutions including patient assistance programs equitable commercialmodels social business models zero-profit models and drug donations. We are committed togrow our business responsibly while always keeping patients at the centre of everything wedo. In fact we go beyond business through the various CSR initiatives we have thuscontributing to society.
Access to healthcare continues to be high on our agenda together with meeting unmetmedical needs of patients in India. We are extremely aware of our responsibility toprovide affordable medicines particularly to the rural poor. Under the umbrella of oursocial business Arogya Parivar which completed 10 years since it started as a pilot intwo districts we have conducted close to 150000 health education meetings in theprevious financial year. During the same period 398618 people participated in 9232health camps held in 11 states. Arogya Parivar continues to evaluate newer models forhealth-care delivery to underserved people including leveraging digital technology tobroaden reach.
In the following pages of this annual report our newly appointed Vice Chairman &Managing Director Milan Paleja describes in some detail how our Company addresses accesschallenges in India. With his appointment the Board of Directors and I are confident thatour Company is in good hands. He returns to India with rich multi-country experiencewhich will be to the long-term benefit of the Company.
I thank you for continuing to place your trust and confidence in our Company and lookforward to your continued support in the years ahead. On behalf of the Board of DirectorsI am pleased to propose a dividend of Rs.10 per equity share of Rs.5 at the forthcomingAnnual General Meeting.