The Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund and the Embassy of Japan have called for greater cross-border collaboration to ensure global preparedness for the inevitable resurgence of infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS and neglected tropical diseases.
The GHIT Fund, a Japanese-led initiative, is a product development fund for global health R&D and aims to advance the development of drugs, vaccines and diagnostics. Through facilitating international partnerships and providing research funding via a grant-making investment mechanism, the GHIT Fund enables Japanese innovation to play a more direct role in reducing health disparities worldwide.
The GHIT Fund is an independent body funded by the government of Japan, five Japanese pharmaceutical companies and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The threat of global epidemics has highlighted the failure of the current commercial R&D model to keep up with the moving targets of infectious diseases. Researchers now need to start looking at new ways to drive drug development to rapidly address the threats that infectious diseases pose in order to meet the needs of developing world populations.
The GHIT Fund invests in the efficient and effective development of novel health technologies based on data-driven and outcomes-oriented decisions. These investments have the potential to save millions of lives and drastically improve health in the developing world.
B.T. Slingsby, CEO and executive director of the GHIT Fund, said, “The GHIT Fund uniquely measures impact and progress against rigorous criteria and metrics throughout the product development process. This enables us to quantitatively assess the results of our development partners and ultimately understand the health, social and economic impact of our work. Huge R&D efforts are required to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and we urge governments, industry and academia to engender a stronger political voice for fighting infectious diseases.”
Globally, three out of seven people are at risk of contracting a major infectious disease and one in seven is infected with a major infectious disease. The need for concerted action to create a current framework for R&D that invests in accelerating innovations for neglected populations is needed now more than ever.
Peter Piot, GHIT board member and director at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine, has been urging global leaders to act now to avoid facing the very real threat of devastating epidemic diseases.
Piot said, “The development of treatments and vaccines must be prioritized during both inter-epidemic and epidemic periods. Emphasis must be placed on creating a mechanism for accelerating development and testing interventions when epidemic situations arise so we are better aligned and globally prepared. With the right blend of political will, public awareness, resources and science, we can educate, prevent, treat and, eventually, eliminate many of the diseases that affect the developing world.”