Overview: PATH overcomes the world’s toughest health challenges—and brings health within reach for all

At PATH, we dream big.

We are also pragmatic—and persistent.

We know that progress in global health takes thoughtful, patient work over the long term. It requires an aptitude for collaborating with hundreds of dedicated partners across sectors and borders. It demands an entrepreneurial spirit and a deep commitment to the people we serve.

2011 was a year of tangible progress toward this dream. It brought breakthrough achievements in the development and delivery of new vaccines that protect against disease, critical advances in health technologies designed for challenging environments, and innovative programs and approaches that gave the world’s women and children new hope for a healthier life.

Developing lifesaving vaccines and devices

For 35 years, scientific and technological innovation has been the driving force behind our work. This has led to health solutions that reduce suffering and save lives in even the most remote areas of the developing world.

PATH advanced more than 160 health devices and products in our development pipeline in 2011. These simple, affordable health technologies are tailored for use in low-resource settings. They include diagnostic tools that can rapidly detect infections, products that provide families with access to clean water, and contraceptive devices to protect women from unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections such as HIV. For example, the PATH-designed Woman’s Condom received regulatory approval from the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration in 2011—a pivotal step that allowed the manufacturer to market the Woman’s Condom in China.

PATH also works with public- and private-sector partners to develop new vaccines for some of the world’s most devastating health threats, including malaria, meningitis, pneumonia, rotavirus, influenza, enteric disease, polio, and respiratory syncytial virus. Our work to advance development of malaria vaccines includes a vaccine candidate that, if research continues to demonstrate promise, may receive a policy recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO) as soon as 2015. To expand access to both new and existing vaccines, we focused on technologies that help ensure immunization effectiveness and safety.

Supporting women, children, and families

Woman holding child.When women, mothers, and children are healthy, communities are, too. In 2011, PATH delivered solutions across the full continuum of care for women and children. Our tools, interventions, and partnerships improved access to reproductive health services and supplies, supported healthy pregnancies and safe deliveries, and helped children get off to the strongest possible start in life.

To improve reproductive health, we developed and introduced products to prevent cervical cancer and encouraged healthier behaviors. We also advocated for affordable, high-quality reproductive health services and supplies on behalf of the estimated 215 million women who still lack access to modern methods of family planning. For example, we worked in Latin America and Asia to help build country capacity for meeting family planning needs, calling on both the public and private sectors to help fill gaps left by changes in the funding landscape.

Our work in maternal and child health starts with pregnancy and extends through labor, birth, and the critical early months and years of a child’s life. In 2011, we developed and introduced tools and interventions that prevent postpartum hemorrhage, safeguard the lives of newborns, support better nutrition, and encourage health-seeking behaviors.

In India, for example, we worked in the two most populous states to build community health governance structures that protect mothers and babies. PATH’s Sure Start Project touched a remarkable 24.5 million people over the life of the project, training thousands of community health workers, helping communities prioritize maternal and newborn health, and educating women about protecting their health and the health of their babies.

Delivering tools to reduce the burden of disease

Lab workerThe impact of emerging and epidemic diseases, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis (TB), is felt most acutely by people in countries with the fewest resources to respond. Poverty, weak health systems, and lack of accurate information leave families and communities vulnerable to these disease’s ravaging effects and can prevent the lifesaving protection of vaccines from reaching those who need them.

PATH works to reduce the spread of these diseases. To improve access to available vaccines, we developed methods to better forecast demand for vaccines, and we identified improvements in vaccine distribution at the country level. In sub-Saharan Africa, we worked with three countries to introduce the groundbreaking MenAfriVac™ vaccine for meningitis A that we developed with WHO and other partners. To date, MenAfriVac™ has been administered to more than 54 million people across six countries.

To help those living with HIV/AIDS and TB, we helped develop and introduce enhanced prevention measures and helped strengthen care and treatment. And to address malaria, we advanced cross-cutting strategies to promote country malaria control programs, working with partners to wage a door-to-door fight against the disease with the goal of elimination in the future. As a result of aggressive efforts to expand access to insecticide-treated nets and other currently available malaria interventions, the risk of childhood death has dropped by more than 20 percent in eight African countries to date.

What’s next

The global health community is achieving real advances, and the promise of even greater progress is within reach. As we look to 2012 and beyond, PATH has never been more strongly positioned to help lead the way. We are accelerating innovation, deepening our connections with the communities we serve, and tapping the breadth and depth of our global health expertise. New capabilities, including a new drug development program, are allowing us to pursue integrated strategies to tackle the world’s greatest health threats.

We are dreaming big. And everything we do—for children, for women, for communities—is focused on translating that dream into reality and redefining what is possible in global health.

Child reaching.

Photos: PATH/Gabe Bienczycki (top, middle); PATH/Mike Wang (bottom).