Negotiators from the United States and 10 other countries last month concluded a 14th round of private talks in Leesburg, Va., “to wrap up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, poised to become the largest trade deal in U.S. history,” the Charlotte Observer reports. The talks “involve a tussle over how far to go to protect intellectual property rights and, with them, the finances of brand-name drug companies,” according to the newspaper, which adds, “If drug companies get their way in protecting brand-name drugs in a new international trade deal, critics say, millions of AIDS patients in poor countries will go untreated, losing access to cheaper generic drugs that could keep them alive.”
Private Sector Involvement
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Al Ansari Exchange, “a major foreign exchange and remittance company in the [United Arab Emirates], have committed $10 million over the next five years to tackle” polio and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), Devex reports (Ravelo, 10/10). “The agreement, which was jointly signed in Abu Dhabi by Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, and Mohammed Ali Al Ansari, chairman of the board of Al Ansari Exchange, will kick off with an initial co-funded contribution of $4 million to support polio eradication activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the prevention and treatment of NTDs in sub-Saharan Africa,” an Al Ansari Exchange press release notes (10/9). In his blog, “The Gates Notes,” Gates provides a transcript of his speech at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Media Summit, where the agreement was signed (10/9).
The Financial Times has published a special report (.pdf) on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) featuring 10 articles examining issues including prevention, research, and treatment.
The Harvard School of Public Health announced on Thursday that Regina Rabinovich, former director of infectious diseases at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been chosen to be the ExxonMobil Malaria Scholar in Residence, “where she will focus on innovative strategies to combat malaria,” according to a Harvard press release. “The ExxonMobil Malaria Scholar in Residence program is one of several activities under a new cross-university initiative called ‘Defeating Malaria: From the Genes to the Globe,’ which aims to produce, transmit and translate knowledge to support the control and ultimate eradication of malaria,” the press release states, adding, “Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), in collaboration with the Harvard Global Health Institute, is spearheading the effort, which is being launched in partnership with the United Nations Special Envoy for Malaria. The ExxonMobil Foundation is funding the one-year residency program” (10/4).
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).
On Friday at the University of Washington, “historian Anne-Emanuelle Birn will present the Stephen Stewart Gloyd endowed lecture, ‘Philanthrocapitalism, Cooption and the Politics of Global Health Agenda-Setting,'” KPLU 88.5’s “Humanosphere” blog reports. According to the blog, Birn will explain why she “think[s] of global health as a means to also advance corporate or political agendas.” The blog writes, “Birn will compare the efforts of the Rockefeller Foundation to largely fund and direct the creation of the field of international health, which contributed to improvements in public health worldwide and eventually the creation of what would become the World Health Organization, to the [Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s] current efforts to achieve similarly grand results” (Paulson, 10/4).
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).
NPR’s “The Salt” blog examines how some humanitarian organizations are looking to purchase the ingredients for and manufacture a peanut-based nutritional supplement in the countries where it is used. “They see local production as a way to provide jobs and bring money into impoverished communities. But paying the bill is still a struggle. Even in poor countries, local food often turns out to be more expensive food,” the blog writes. “The Salt” looks at the case of a small organization in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, that has built factories that “emplo[y] Haitian workers and bu[y] peanuts from Haitian farmers.” However, the cost of the final product can be up to 20 percent more expensive than if it were made with peanuts imported from Argentina, the blog notes, adding, “For now, at least, UNICEF has agreed to buy local, even if it costs a little more” (Charles, 10/4).
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.