Accessible global health innovations critical to achieving Sustainable Development Goals

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“You can design the most beautiful vaccine or other technology but without proper marketing or dissemination, it will sit on a shelf,” Kaitlin Christenson of PATH said Wednesday.

Emphasizing that access and affordability are key to the success of innovations addressing global health concerns, she was speaking at  a Congressional panel focused on the role of new vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, and devices in achieving Sustainable Development Goals.

Kaitlin Christenson and Cary Cohen

Kaitlin Christenson and Cary Cohen

Of the 17 goals and 169 targets that the Sustainable Development Goals comprise, only Goal 3 focuses on improving health. In comparison, three of the eight Millennium Development Goals set for 2015 focused on health. Goal 3 is broad and ambitious, including, as it does, a target on ending the HIV, TB and malaria epidemics, along with combating neglected tropical diseases, hepatitis, water-borne and other communicable diseases. It also includes a target to support the research and development of vaccines and medicines — an HIV vaccine with antibodies that work to destroy multiple strains of HIV, long-acting injectable antiretroviral medicines to control the virus, and long-acting injectable pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection among them. Those also are listed in PATH’s Innovation Countdown 2030 report which outlines 30 advances that would speed progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. But the SDGs do not include an indicator for measuring research and development for global health technologies, noted Claire Wingfield, of PATH.

The PATH report also highlights the need for a new vaccine for tuberculosis, as well as the need for shorter, more effective treatment regimens for that disease, while a video shown during the discussion highlighted that with more than 1.5 million TB deaths every year, one person dies from it every 21 seconds.

The discussion was hosted by the Global Health Technologies Coalition and its partners.

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