July 31, 2014 |

How to spur affordable, lifesaving health innovations

Two people in scrubs working on laptops and a large printed spreadsheet.
Improving health information systems leads to better outcomes. Here, nurses in Democratic Republic of Congo enter data to help monitor HIV patient care. Photo: PATH.

On August 18, 2014, we will be 500 days away from the target date to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Reflecting on this deadline, PATH president and CEO Steve Davis contributed an article to Devex entitled “Innovation Knows No Borders: Delivering on the Health MDGs.” This is an excerpt; read the full article at Devex.

How can we make it unheard of for a woman to die in childbirth? Or a child to die of diarrhea? How can we radically improve the course of human development? As we look to 2015 and beyond to the next phase—the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals—we need four things to spur affordable, lifesaving innovations:

  1. Financial and political support by UN member states for research, development, and delivery of new and improved health tools that target the leading killers in low- and middle-income countries. Continued investment in science, technology, and innovation is essential to building on the gains of the MDGs.
  2. Governments must integrate research into their strategic plans to achieve global health and development goals. By prioritizing and elevating science, research, and innovation, both developed and developing countries can help spur new vaccines, drugs, devices, and diagnostics.
  3. Increased collaboration between the private and public sectors and nongovernmental organizations. “Tri-sector” partnerships leverage the unique strengths of each partner to generate broad-scale impact that none could have achieved individually.
  4. Better use of data to inform policies, products, and health interventions. Improving health information systems and strengthening capability for monitoring and evaluation will support decision-making based on evidence and enable citizens to hold governments accountable.

With 500 days to go, we stand at a sensational juncture. Poised to build upon—and learn from—the MDGs, we have the opportunity to chart our future course and, in the process, make history.

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