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Leveraging Innovative Financing Mechanisms For Global Health R&D

“Whatever the exact numbers, few would dispute that only a small fraction of health [research and development (R&D)] funding targets conditions in poor countries that account for most of the global disease burden,” Trevor Mundel, president of the Global Health Division at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in a SciDev.Net opinion piece. “This is hardly surprising, given that markets in these countries have historically been unable to deliver sufficient financial returns to support the commercial development of health solutions for neglected diseases,” he writes, adding, “To help meet the most urgent health needs of developing countries, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is employing a range of innovative financing strategies that we believe can help markets ease the bottlenecks at various stages of the discovery, development, and delivery lifecycle of new medical products.”

“For example, equity investments can advance early-stage discovery and innovation; commercialization loans are an efficient way to scale-up manufacturing; and volume guarantees and delivery investment funds can help pharmaceutical companies and health care providers to get important vaccines and drugs to the people who need them,” Mundel continues, and provides details. “While public-private partnerships are not uncommon in global development, there is a big opportunity to leverage novel financial strategies — alongside traditional grants, partnerships, and advocacy efforts — to stimulate private-sector R&D, encourage market-driven efficiencies, and attract new capital,” he states. “But creating the right market incentives is only part of the challenge — getting affordable and effective health solutions and services to the people who need them can also be difficult,” he continues, and writes, “Over the next several years, we expect to increase our investments in these kinds of innovative financing mechanisms” (2/7).