For the first time ever, September’s UN General Assembly Meeting included a high-level meeting on universal health coverage (UHC), a broad initiative to promote policies that lead to better health outcomes.
The unprecedented advances in human longevity of the past five decades have been spurred by an extraordinary amount of innovation in the medical technology field, which has given scientists access to powerful tools to develop new procedures and drugs. Since 2000, life expectancy has increased by 5.5 years and the vaccination rate for three major illnesses impacting children – diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis – has hit an all-time high (86%). But there is much work yet to do. More than half of the world’s population faces barriers to accessing critical health products and services, and non-infectious diseases such as obesity and heart disease are on the rise.
The world needs new approaches and solutions – and innovation and intellectual property (IP) must be central parts of those solutions. The private sector has long been the driver in creating products and services needed not just to fix today’s health emergencies but to engineer tomorrow’s cures.
Take malaria: pharmaceutical firm Novartis recently partnered with a group of academic and nonprofit organisations to develop a next-generation antimalarial drug while also strengthening clinical research capacities in Africa, the region that is most severely affected by this devastating disease.