The Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) has released their annual policy report, “Sustaining Progress: Creating US policies to spur global health innovation,” which outlines crucial advances made in global health research and development, thanks to U.S.-government investment. The report urges policymakers to continue their strong support for global health innovation during a time when President Obama has requested drastic cuts to key global health programs, such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The report offers recommendations for policymakers to ensure that the U.S. remains a leader in global health innovation.
The GHTC released the report at a congressional briefing Tuesday, featuring a panel of global health leaders who discussed the importance of U.S.-government investment in bridging gaps in global health research and product development.
Karen Goraleski, event moderator and executive director of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, started off the event by explaining that U.S. investments in global health produce real results and increased investment will not only provide health benefits abroad but health benefits at home too. According to the GHTC report, because the U.S. government has continued to prioritize and support global health research and development through important funding and regulatory practices, we have seen incredible scientific progress towards development of new drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, and other tools. “The world stands at a turning point in global health,” according to the report.
Kemy Monahan, deputy executive director of the Global Health Initiative (GHI), explained that investing in global health is in America’s national interests. One of the GHI’s core principles is to focus on research and development, and Monahan explained that the GHI was designed to be a driver of collaboration and coordination across U.S. agencies and departments. Goraleski echoed Monahan’s thoughts on global health by saying that science and innovation are diplomatic tools.
Dr. Kevin De Cock, director of the Center for Global Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), discussed ways in which U.S. investment in the CDC’s global health projects have made lasting impacts and continue to drive innovation. With more than 1,800 people working in 55 countries, the CDC works to increase global health capacity, health security, and health impact so people live longer, healthier, and safer lives. Global health investment helps the CDC with developing new vaccines, improving diagnostics, and developing new tools and implementing effective health programs, he said. For example, the CDC was involved with the ground-breaking HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052 study, and is currently involved with developing vaccines for malaria, dengue, and Rift Valley fever. Dr. De Cock explained that CDC involvement with expansion of rapid HIV testing has had a big impact on improving diagnostics.
The report makes recommendations to policymakers that provide them with “a platform to elevate the country’s involvement in developing and delivering the next generation of lifesaving health products in the research pipeline.” Here is a sampling of their recommendations:
- Protect and sustain funding for global health product development
- Include global health research and product development in key health and development policies
- Build stronger partnerships with non-U.S. regulatory stakeholders
- Bolster the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s engagement with groups developing global health tools
- Engage with other governments and donors to explore and support incentives and innovative financing
The report states, “Even in these constrained budgetary times, U.S. policymakers cannot lose sight of the ultimate goal – saving lives with new drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, and other health products.”
The full report, as well as interviews with key global health experts – such as the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Anthony Fauci – are available on the GHTC website.