Our focus is on health challenges that disproportionately impact the world’s poorest, including both those long-standing — like tuberculosis (TB), malaria, and neglected tropical diseases — and those newly emerging. As the phrase “neglected diseases and conditions” indicates, these areas have historically been overlooked by industry because they offer little profit incentive. That means public sector funding from the U.S. government is even more essential to advance research.
The Global Health Technologies Coalition’s (GHTC) mission is to advance policies to accelerate the creation of new vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, and other tools to bring healthy lives within reach for all people. As a result, GHTC’s U.S. advocacy spans across many agencies. This includes those well-known for health research, like the National Institutes of Health, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as those sometimes lesser-considered in the realm of health like the Defense Department, which has a long history in malaria and neglected disease research to protect troop health, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which advances health technologies designed specifically for resource-poor settings.
As we’ve made the case to U.S. policymakers on why global health research is a smart investment, GHTC has often emphasized the interconnectedness between global and American health. It’s a lesson now unfolding in real-time as the world faces a global pandemic unprecedented in modern times. An outbreak that started in one corner of the world has quickly become a global crisis with no country immune from its devastating toll.
Whether motivated by compassion or self-interest, as we confront the global pandemic of COVID-19, we must do so with a global perspective in mind. The fight against this disease won’t be won anywhere until it is won everywhere. That means as a scientific community, we have a responsibility to ensure that the fruits of science now rapidly advancing on COVID-19 are affordable and widely-accessible to all and that special attention is given to advancing products suitable for health systems in the world’s poorest places.
To the adage, “Diseases don’t respect borders,” it’s time to add another: “Science doesn’t respect disease siloes.” We’re seeing that dynamic at play as we deploy our full scientific might against the coronavirus. Drugs originally developed for threats like malaria, Ebola, and HIV/AIDS are now being explored as potential treatments for COVID-19. And, vaccine researchers are studying if a century-old TB vaccine could boost immune response and how platforms originally developed for HIV vaccines can be adapted to this new threat. This pandemic is dismantling the distinction between global and domestic health and breaking down disease siloes in new ways, demonstrating how scientific progress in one area benefits all. It’s a lesson we hope the research community and policymakers will take to heart.
As new Research!America members, we look forward to standing as one with this alliance to confront the pandemic at hand, longstanding health challenges causing suffering beyond the headlines, and health threats still to come. As is so often repeated during these trying times: Even apart, we are stronger together.