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).
Private Sector Involvement
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.
In the PLoS “Speaking of Medicine” blog, Leena Menghaney, a lawyer and India manager of the Access Campaign at Medecins Sans Frontieres, writes about “two critical legal battles between multinational pharmaceutical companies and the Indian government [that] are taking center stage in an ongoing struggle over India’s medicines patent law.” Before describing each case in detail, she summarizes, “One case goes to the heart of what merits a patent. The other addresses what countries can do when patented life-saving medicines are priced out of reach for the vast majority of patients.” Menghaney concludes, “The world is watching closely, as these cases could have a profound impact on access to life-saving medicines for millions of people worldwide” (10/1).
“India has had a positive global impact through its supply of vast quantities of low-cost, good-quality generic medicines, which have saved or prolonged millions of lives … [b]ut there are also many factors that may hinder the continuation of the [country’s] role as chief supplier of medicines to developing countries,” Martin Khor, executive director of the South Centre in Geneva, writes in an Inter Press Service opinion piece. He examines the history of generic drug production in India and says the 1995 World Trade Organization TRIPS agreement negatively affected the country’s ability to produce generic drugs. Though “India has one of the best patent laws in the world that still gives some space to its producers to make generic drugs, … it is also true that the old policy space has been eroded because many new drugs have, since 2005, been patented by multinational companies that are selling them at exorbitant prices,” Khor writes.
The Coca-Cola Company and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria have announced the expansion of a pilot project, called “Project Last Mile,” that uses Coca Cola’s “‘expansive global distribution system and core business expertise’ to help deliver critical medicines to remote parts of the world, beginning in rural Africa,” Pharma Times reports. “The public-private partnership was established in 2010 to help Tanzania’s government-run medicine distribution network, Medical Stores Department, build a more efficient supply chain by using Coca-Cola’s” delivery system model, the news service writes, adding, “The latest phase of the partnership, developed in cooperation with the likes of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Accenture and Yale University, will increase the availability of critical medicines to 75 percent of Tanzania and expand the initiative to Ghana and Mozambique” (Grogan, 9/26).
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Christine Rousseau, a program officer at the foundation, describes the importance of diagnostics in HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) care and treatment and writes, “This brings me to the tremendous role that China’s entrepreneurs can play as partners in global health. China is a country with a huge capacity for innovation as well as the resources required to create new products. We believe that China is uniquely positioned to develop new health technologies that can benefit people in the developing world faster and more effectively than product developers elsewhere.” She notes “the HIV and TB teams of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be presenting the business case for a new generation of diagnostics to Chinese researchers, product developers, and investors at the China Diagnostics Conference in Shanghai on September 25 and 26” (9/24).
In a post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” CARE President and CEO Helene Gayle describes a new multi-partner initiative, called “Women and Girls Lead Global,” which aims to spread “the stories of … resilient women and girls” through documentary films that will air in nine countries over three years. The goal of the initiative, which is sponsored by CARE, USAID, the Independent Television Service (ITVS), and the Ford Foundation, “is to educate and inspire the public to take action on the development challenges and gender inequities that girls and women face,” she writes. Gayle concludes, “I encourage you to explore the Women and Girls Lead Global website, where you will find film clips and interactive activities. These girls and women have a story to tell, and with your support, their achievements will start a ripple of change in communities around the world” (9/24).
“Some academics and non-profit organizations are skeptical of the motives of the increasing number of multinational companies who seek partnerships to address non-communicable diseases (NCDs),” Derek Yach, senior vice president of global health and agriculture policy at PepsiCo and former head of NCDs at WHO, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. He asks, “So how well is the private sector doing in tackling the rising pandemic of NCDs, which cause nearly two out of every three deaths in the world (80 percent of those in developing countries), the four main ones being cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes?” He continues, “The private sector is a major stakeholder in many ways — as employers; makers of food and medicines, sports gear and technology; as corporate citizens and consumers — and wants to be engaged in the global NCD dialogue. We deserve a seat at the table.”