As Product Development Partnerships (PDPs) dedicated to the discovery, development and delivery of new global health tools, we applaud the official launch of the Global Health Innovation and Technology Fund (GHIT Fund), which was announced today in Tokyo, Japan. This new public-private partnership of the Japanese Government, the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation and a group of private pharmaceutical companies seeks to foster and harness Japanese innovation to address diseases that disproportionately affect low- and middle-income countries.
GHIT Fund complements Japan’s existing investments in critical global health interventions, and demonstrates the nation’s commitment to long-term solutions to develop tools urgently needed to address diseases that impact millions of people, mostly in developing countries. The need is indeed great: Every day, more than 2,000 children die from diarrheal diseases, 2,000 people—mostly children—lose their lives to malaria, and almost 800 women die from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Further, nearly 7,000 people are newly infected with HIV, and 24,000 people become sick from tuberculosis each day. In addition, neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) exact a heavy toll on more than a billion of the world’s poorest people.
GHIT Fund will encourage partnerships between world-class Japanese research programs and global efforts by PDPs to advance innovative ideas to discover, develop and deliver medicines, vaccines and other preventive and diagnostic tools for use throughout the world. PDPs are non-profit organizations that bring together public and private sectors to advance the development and facilitate the delivery of new health technologies to combat diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries and that the market historically ignored. They do so by streamlining the R&D process and alleviating much of the financial risk associated with such product development. PDPs are today developing some 150 products to address a range of neglected diseases and global health crises—ranging from AIDS, malaria, TB, Chagas disease, dengue fever, visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and sleeping sickness, to maternal and child health. The new GHIT Fund will provide critical additional support to their efforts by applying Japanese innovation to the global public health challenges.
“The global health community desperately needs more programs to develop treatment and prevention measures for diseases of poverty, like NTDs,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and director of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development. “By bringing together a diverse group experts from the public, private, academic and philanthropic sectors, important funders like GHIT create a clear path towards developing effective interventions and delivering them to people in need.”