The Financial Times examines the creation of UNITAID, an innovative financing mechanism and international drug purchasing facility, and how Philippe Douste-Blazy, chair of the UNITAID Executive Board and France’s former foreign minister who helped create the organization, is looking to move beyond drug financing to raise money through “microdonations” for development programs. Douste-Blazy is proposing tacking financial transaction taxes (FTTs) onto the price of certain products and services, creating “gifts so tiny that the donors don’t even notice they are giving them,” according to the newspaper. The Financial Times writes, “Douste-Blazy argues: ‘Certain sectors have benefited enormously from globalization: financial transactions, tourism and mobile phones. We need to tax an economic activity that’s only done by the rich, and tax it so lightly that nobody will notice.’” The newspaper continues, “Moreover, he points out, this tax would be popular. And it would save lives” (Kuper, 10/5).
Private Sector Involvement
World Bank President Addresses Meeting of the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America
The World Bank provides a transcript of World Bank President Jim Yong Kim’s remarks at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America. Kim discusses his engagement in Africa and Latin America as co-founder of Partners In Health, highlights the World Development Report, which he says “is focused on jobs,” and emphasizes the role of the private sector in economic growth. “As good as we might be at delivering health and educational services in the small projects that we worked, at the end of the day, what everyone in the world wants is a good job, and 90 percent of those good jobs happen in the private sector,” he said, according to the transcript (10/1).
Scientific American examines the intersection of humanitarian aid, economic development, and climate change, saying, “Environmental, humanitarian, and economic challenges do not exist in isolation, but that is how the world most often deals with them.” The article quotes several speakers who attended an event on “resilient livelihoods” held on September 25 at the Rockefeller Foundation. Shrinking water supplies and increased urbanization continue to affect agriculture outputs, and hunger remains a problem worldwide, “[s]o finding new ways to fund environmental improvement and economic development at the same time will be crucial,” the news magazine writes.
Forbes features two interviews with global health leaders. Contributor Rahim Kanani spoke with Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, about GAVI’s impact, innovation, public-private collaboration, and leadership and responsibility. In the interview, Berkley said vaccinating children not only protects them from disease, but it “protects families and whole communities. And it reduces ongoing health care costs, expands educational opportunities and creates a more reliable workforce. This, in turn, creates a more stable community, higher productivity and stronger national economies. Immunization provides an important foundation for political stability and economic growth” (10/4).
“Innovative approaches and technologies as well as a strong political will from countries are essential to combat hunger,” according to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who spoke Thursday night in Des Moines, Iowa, at an event to recognize the winner of the World Food Prize, the U.N. News Centre reports. This year’s winner, Israeli scientist Daniel Hillel, developed “a new mode of bringing water to crops iÂÂn arid and dry regions, known as ‘micro-irrigation,’” the news service notes. An end to hunger “calls for harnessing the creativity of scientists and economists,” Ban said, adding, “It requires developing new approaches and technologies to respond to climate change, water scarcity and desertification,” according to the news service (10/18). “There is enough food to feed seven billion people, but because of climatic conditions, because of supply, market price volatility, there are still 870 million people who are going to bed hungry every night,” Ban said, the Des Moines Register notes.
Deutsche Welle examines the widespread lack of access to medical supplies and drugs in developing countries and efforts by the pharmaceutical industry and others to bring new and lower-cost drugs into these emerging markets. Christian Wagner-Ahlfs of the Federal Coordination of Internationalism, or BUKO, which brings together 130 German activist groups to examine the work of the pharmaceutical industry in developing nations, said new drug prices in particular are “totally exorbitant,” adding, “It is a major problem that the companies do not reveal their actual research costs, so the prices are difficult to control,” according to DW. However, Norbert Gerbsch, deputy managing director of the Federation of German Industry (BPI), said those nations also have a responsibility to improve their health care infrastructure and food security, the news agency reports.
“I’ve always believed that bringing together the world’s brightest minds to help solve the significant and complex crises we face as a global society is the best way to effect change in the world and that is how I envision re-imagining the future of Global Health,” entrepreneur Naveen Jain, founder of World Innovation Institute, Moon Express, inome, and InfoSpace, writes in a Forbes opinion piece. He says he will address this issue in a talk in San Francisco at TEDxSF, which “will explore crucial questions addressing the cutting-edge intersection of technology, medicine, scientific research, and industry at UCSF on November 10, 2012.”
The Humanitarian Centre’s latest Cambridge International Development report (.pdf), titled “Partnerships for global health: pathways to progress,” “provides insights from global health leaders on why partnerships provide a good structure for reciprocal ‘teaching and learning’” and “highlights examples of innovative partnerships — particularly those where the traditional ‘recipient’ of development aid has taken the leading role in providing ideas and ingenuity for global health,” the PLoS “Speaking of Medicine” blog reports. The report comprises several essays, case studies, and other collections of writing from experts in the field, researchers, and politicians, the blog notes (Radl, 10/26).
Extreme weather is forcing grain and meat prices to rise, and food production will have to increase about 60 percent over the next 40 years to meet a growing world population, but “there are solutions to these daunting problems,” Catherine Bertini, former director of the U.N. World Food Programme and the 2003 World Food Prize laureate, and Dan Glickman, former secretary of agriculture, write in a Politico opinion piece. The authors, co-chairs of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Global Agricultural Development Initiative, say that in order to address these issues, “we should increase support for the agricultural researchers, in the U.S. and around the world, who are developing remarkable new drought and flood tolerant crop varieties”; make better use of arable land, especially in Africa; provide “farmers access to improved seeds, pesticides and fertilizers to boost productivity”; improve post-harvest infrastructure, including storage facilities; and “equip those working in agriculture, especially women, with the know-how to use newer technologies.”
Diagnostics company Cepheid on Monday signed deals with PEPFAR, USAID, UNITAID, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to immediately reduce the price of its Xpert MTB/RIF test kit for its GeneXpert tuberculosis (TB) diagnostic system in 145 countries, Reuters reports. “The agreements will see the test sold for $9.98, down from its current price of $16.86 per test,” the news service writes, adding, “Cepheid said the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will make an initial payment of $3.5 million to make the test immediately available at the lower price” (Ail, 8/6).