Posts Tagged ‘Global Health Technologies Coalition’

So, Why Should YOU Care About Global Health Research and Development?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Over the past several weeks, we’ve written a considerable amount about global health R&D and the methods and partnerships that help bring better health to millions around the world.

Perhaps, while reading one of those posts, you’ve thought that the situation sounded too irrelevant, the location too remote for it to be of consequence to the average American. Quite the contrary: Global health R&D does matter to Americans. In state polling conducted by Research!America, 72% of Georgia residents think Americans should be concerned about diseases that mostly affect poorer countries; in Illinois, 75% thought so; and in New Jersey, 79% thought so.

If numbers don’t sway you, a recent blog post from the Global Health Technologies Coalition might. GHTC interviewed four people with familiar names and titles; each underscores the importance of global health to America.

Amie Batson, deputy assistant administrator and deputy to the administrator for the Global Health Initiative at USAID: “I think the world of global health and America’s ability to have an impact on it really epitomizes the best of what America is – the ‘we can make a difference’ view that Americans bring.”

Margaret Hamburg, MD, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration: “Eighty percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients in drugs that we take – the thing that really makes a difference in the drug – come from other countries. The complex global supply chains, the complex global scientific research functions and the fact that products come from all over the world and are used here in the United States means that we want to make sure that health standards and capabilities in those other countries are at the level that we would like to, frankly, see here.”

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA): “Millions of people cross international borders every day. They’re carrying diseases with them. The United States is not insulated from diseases and the rest of the world. We have to care about the rest of the world because if we don’t, those diseases will eventually wind up in our own country.”

Whoopi Goldberg, comedian and talk show host: “AIDS doesn’t care. It doesn’t care what your affiliation is – doesn’t care if you’re Republican, doesn’t care if you’re gay or straight or a little bitty baby. If it gets you, it gets you.”

Goldberg’s point served as an excellent segue; the interviews were posted the day before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. Her topic? Creating an AIDS-free generation.

“But let’s remind ourselves no institution in the world has done more than the United States Government,” she said. “We have produced a track record of excellence in science. Researchers right here at the NIH conducted pivotal research that identified HIV and proved that it did cause AIDS. The first drug to treat AIDS was supported by the United States. Today we are making major investments in the search for a vaccine; for tools like microbicides, which give women the power to protect themselves; and other lifesaving innovations.”

We pay for it, and we benefit from it, despite its far-flung sounding name. Global health research benefits us all.

Partnerships for Innovation: Simple Solutions that Save Lives

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Innovations in health are key to relieving the ever-increasing burden that diseases place on health systems around the world. A Capitol Hill briefing this week, called “Partnerships for Innovation: Simple Solutions that Save Lives,” emphasized the importance of global health product development partnerships to leverage simple solutions to improve and save the lives of millions worldwide. The briefing was hosted by Research!America, BIO Ventures for Global Health, PATH and the Global Health Technologies Coalition.

One example of a simple solution with a big impact is a small sticker that changes color to let health workers know if a vaccine is safe for use after exposure to less-than-ideal temperatures. USAID, PATH and New Jersey-based TempTime Corporation partnered to create these special heat-sensitive stickers – called Vaccine Vial Monitors – that are attached to each vaccine vial at the manufacturing site. The sticker measures heat and cold exposure as the vaccine is moved from the production line to the final destination. If the vaccine ever gets to too hot or too cold and is no longer usable, the sticker changes color and the vial is discarded.

Reps. Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) sponsored the event. Sires reiterated the importance of supporting global health research and development, especially at a time when the U.S. cannot afford to let partnerships for innovation “fall by the wayside.” His remarks echoed the need for continued support in the area of simple technologies capable of bringing dramatic results such as improved health and lives saved.

GHTC Event: Advancing Global Health Through New Technologies

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011
From left, Elizabeth Bukusi, PhD, The Honorable Mike Castle, Yasmin Halima, MPH, Alex Dehgan, PhD, and Kerri-Ann Jones, PhD (at podium).

From left, Elizabeth Bukusi, PhD, The Honorable Mike Castle, Yasmin Halima, MPH, Alex Dehgan, PhD, and Kerri-Ann Jones, PhD (at podium).

As a member of the Global Health Technologies Coalition, Research!America was invited to participate in a hybrid exposition/briefing event hosted by GHTC focused on the role of science, research and innovation in promoting U.S. global health and development policies worldwide.

The event, “Sparking innovation to save lives: How the U.S. can advance global health through new technologies,” was moderated by Yasmin Halima, MPH, director, Global Campaign for Microbicides. Panelists included keynote speaker Kerri-Ann Jones, PhD, assistant secretary of state for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs; Alex Dehgan, PhD, science and technology adviser at USAID; The Honorable Mike Castle, a Research!America board member; and Elizabeth Bukusi, PhD, chief research officer and deputy director of research and training at the Kenya Medical Research Institute.

All of the speakers emphasized the necessity of global health partnerships and diplomacy. Diplomacy, Jones said, means the recognition that we must work together to solve old global health problems with new technologies. “Global engagement through partnerships” is essential, Dehgan said.

“The cost of disease affects all countries. Disease doesn’t respect boundaries,” he continued.

A striking point that Dehgan made was the importance of getting treatments to people who haven’t yet been reached. One example of “connecting the unconnected,” as Deghan described it, was the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action. A partnership between the State Department, Johnson & Johnson, the UN Foundation, the mHealth Alliance and BabyCenter, MAMA (its clever acronym) uses mobile technology to deliver health information to mothers around the world.

The panelists agreed that the U.S. should leverage its power to bring research to the field. Dehgan quoted the Research!America poll finding that 94% of Americans think government, academia and private industries should work together to develop new treatments and cures.

Further, Dehgan and Bukusi discussed the moral imperative behind global health. We all have choices, Bukusi said. A Kenyan native, she said that these choices define America. Dehgan solidified Bukusi’s point in citing the Research!America poll finding that 84% of Americans recognize that global health is a moral obligation.

This moral obligation can be fulfilled right here in Washington. Castle pointed out that Members of Congress play a key role in shaping global health policies because they are responsible for deciding how federal funding should be allocated to address global health problems. It is of critical importance, Castle said, that global health advocates bring their cases to their Members of Congress, who usually respond to the lobbying focus that comes to their door: a parent with a sick child, a nonprofit organization, a student of global health. But the issue must be made interesting to Members of Congress. One way to peak their interest, Castle says, is talking about global health in terms of the jobs it creates.

If everyone works together for the global health cause, “drops of water can become a mighty ocean,” Bukusi said.

Maria Freire’s Remarks at GHTC

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Remarks by Dr. Maria Freire, President, Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation
Presented at: “Innovation in Action: Advancing New Tools to Combat Global Health Diseases”
The Global Health Technologies Coalition in cooperation with Senator Patty Murray and The Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus, Russell Senate Office Building, April 21, 2010

It is fitting that we are assembled in this beautiful venue, the Kennedy Caucus Room, named after a man who devoted his life to making research for health a high national priority and whose steadfast commitment to this goal helped make this country the global leader in biomedical research.

Because of U.S. research funding, our nation has outstanding scientists, clinicians and entrepreneurs, all of whom are part of an innovation continuum that is unparalleled around the globe. The results are simply astonishing: In the last two decades or so, we witnessed the sequencing of the human genome, developed antiretroviral treatments that successfully extend life, and produced drugs that can actually turn a cancer like chronic myeloid leukemia from a death sentence into a treatable condition.

In parallel, the world has become smaller – we can communicate instantaneously with people in almost every corner of the world. In doing so, as a society we have been made acutely aware of the health problems around the globe, particularly of diseases that disproportionately affect poor populations. And, as a society, we have come together to do something about this.

Global health is not a subject, it is a verb. It is about taking action.

In little over a decade, a new breed of organizations, the product-development partnerships, or PDPs, have generated over 100 new drug candidates and 39 diagnostic and vector control candidate technologies for neglected and tropical diseases. This is truly remarkable. And, it is not an accident.

This wave of innovation resulted from concerted efforts of scientists, clinicians, public health experts and advocates. They’ve come from academia, industry, civil society, philanthropy and government, from the North and from the South. Against heavy odds, they joined forces, with laser-sharp focus, to develop medicines, vaccines and diagnostics for diseases for which economic incentives were not the drivers.

When I started as CEO of the TB Alliance, our group had 3 people and no drug pipeline. Today, the world has the largest pipeline of TB drugs in history. We are indebted to those inspired leaders at agencies such as USAID and NIH, whose funding has enabled drug candidates to advance into clinical trials. As a consequence of the USAID investment, for example, endemic countries can develop the expertise and infrastructure to conduct basic and clinical research, which will enable them to tackle their enormous health challenges and increase their competitiveness.

Developments such as these are a very good start: they provide hope to millions of sick people and help increase the world’s capacity to tackle global disease. But, alas, this is merely a start.

To be “transformational,” we need to rectify the underfunding of research on health problems for the global poor. We need to embrace the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory expertise to help register safe and effective medicines, vaccines and diagnostics in countries around the world. And we need to act nimbly and creatively in finding and promoting innovative finance mechanisms to ensure that these life-saving tools reach those who need them.

The United States must be bold and innovative in its approach and ensure that biomedical funding is a strategic, economic, and policy cornerstone. As the leader in biomedical research, our country can spearhead a global movement for increased and sustainable funding for research that will transform the world.

The results of such an enterprise will be measurable: it will promote innovation for medicine, encourage basic, translational and clinical research, and spur economic development. This initiative would also provide an excellent opportunity to enable broad exchange of scientific information and promote education, within, among and between countries. Long term, the investment will reduce the burden of disease locally and globally, and enhance the quality and extend the productive lives of people everywhere.

With this global investment, we can envision a world in which disease and disability are ultimately conquered by the advances and knowledge generated from biomedical research.

Today, more than ever, with competing national and international priorities, we must not waiver from our path – we must deepen our funding of research for health and ensure that it remains not only a national priority, but a global imperative. Millions of lives, our own and those of our neighbors, depend on it.

Global Health Technologies Coalition’s Congressional Expo

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

The Global Health Technologies Coalition will host its first Congressional expo on April 21, 2010. GHTC advocates for research and development for new vaccines, diagnostics, drugs, microbicides and other tools in order to have the most effective health solutions when they are needed. This expo will emphasize the role of new health products for diseases affecting people around the world and highlight the need for even more innovation in this area. The event will showcase new tools which are under development to prevent, diagnose and treat global health issues. Also, GHTC will release its first annual report on global health research and development.

The event, “Innovation in action: advancing new tools to combat global health diseases,” will have two featured speakers and three panelists. The speakers will be Maria Freire, PhD, who is currently the president of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, and Nils Daulaire, MD, MPH, who is the director of the Office of Global Health Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services. The panelists at the event will be Michael Johnson, MD, MPH, deputy director, Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Sylvie Kwedi, MPH, MS, founder and president, Capacity for Leadership in Excellence and Research, Inc., and Christy Hanson, PhD, MPH, chief, Infectious Disease Division, Bureau for Global Health, United States Agency for International Development.

This event will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building. Research!America is a member of GHTC and will have a table at the event.

To find out more visit www.ghtcoalition.org. To RSVP, contact Megan Miller at info@ghtcoalition.org or 202.822.0033.