[Florence Gignac is student at the ISGlobal-UB Master of Global Health]
Okay, let’s face it. In 2017, traditional sources of funding are under strain
Okay, let’s face it.
In 2017, traditional sources of funding are under strain, research and development (R&D) to fight the burden of old and new diseases require collaboration of different disciplines, health inequalities are blatantly present in both developed and developing countries, and several actors with various interests emerge in the landscape of global health…
So, what is the solution?
To address this complex situation, there is no need to explore new options. We already have one in place: it is called the public-private partnership
In my opinion, to address this complex situation, there is no need to explore new options. We already have one in place: it is called the public-private partnership (PPP). I consider that the relevancy of the PPP is rooted in its ability to respond to one single inherent need in the nature of the global health arena which is the multidisciplinary approach for increasing innovation and knowledge through the mobilization of funding and resources. Take for example the Meningitis Vaccine project. It has produced a new vaccine in Sub-Saharan Africa for less than $0.50 per dose, and is a partnership between four completely distinct entities: the NGO PATH, the WHO, the philanthropic group of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the pharmaceutical lab Serum Institute of India.
Not convinced yet?
PPPs are able to gather most of the usually limited resources: technical, structural, but especially financial
True, the performance of PPPs remains a subject of debate. For instance, some say that PPPs drive poor harmonization. That being said, taking into account that health problems are so related to one and another, their interconnectivity will eventually impede a single organization from accomplishing their goals. Partnership is then the key to overcome this problem because PPPs are able to gather most of the usually limited resources: technical, structural, but especially financial. The costs are reduced for each entity and, most importantly, the duplication of efforts is avoided. Let’s look at the case of the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). By not being economically attractive and having low monetary return, they are highly disregarded in investment from individual organizations. By partnering with a PPP, a pharmaceutical company can be less exposed to bankruptcy because their R&D expenses are pooled with other investors. This mutual benefit leads to innovation, and some estimations speak for themselves: 75% of R&D projects for NTDs were conducted by PPPs in 2004 and PPPs were able to take 10 new health products into the market, with 122 drugs and treatments in process by 2010.
Still not sure?
PPPs bring multidisciplinarity onto the table, with inter-complementary skills between the private sector which is able to bring scientific and technical know-how, intellectual property and product development expertise, and the public sector which is able to bring the societal responsibility, advocacy and affordability of services. The SILCS Diaphragm, a new affordable contraceptive option to prevent unwanted pregnancies in low resource settings, has been the result of a combination of specialized design expertise from the private sector and consideration of social determinants in women’s reproductive health from the public sector.
Ready to believe in PPPs?
A number of people criticize the PPPs for misaligning their actions with the recipient country’s priorities. Nevertheless, the majority of PPPs are not created for the purpose of imposing their own solutions and their own vision. Instead, it is the recipient country itself that seems to stress the importance of developing PPPs. In fact, only recently, Nigeria, Kenya and India openly expressed the need of PPPs to strengthen their healthcare delivery..
Okay, let’s “partner” it!
The contribution of PPPs still seems to be appropriate and relevant in order to tackle some major global health issues
In conclusion, the contribution of PPPs still seems to be appropriate and relevant in order to tackle some major global health issues. Of course, there are imperfections in this type of collaborations, but alone you can go fast whereas together we can go far…