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US Rep. Albio Sires speaks about legislation to support global health technologies at Capitol Hill briefing. Photo: PATH/Ashley Bennett.

On June 15, PATH helped convene a panel of experts from the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and the US government to discuss how public-private partnerships are catalyzing innovative, affordable solutions that save lives and provide hope for millions of families worldwide.

The Capitol Hill briefing was convened by PATH as well as the Global Health Technologies Coalition, Research!America, BIO Ventures for Global Health, in cooperation with US Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ), and US Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL). Dr. Christopher J. Elias, PATH president and CEO, moderated the discussion.

Congressman Sires provided opening remarks. He recently introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 2144) that would provide legislative authority for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to research and develop new health technologies. “Through strong US leadership in global health, we can leverage the private sector’s expertise and resources to develop new lifesaving technologies to improve the health of some of the most vulnerable people across the globe,” Sires said.

The contribution of the US government

Amie Batson, deputy assistant administrator for global health at USAID, discussed how innovation is central to the agency’s strategy for addressing global health and development challenges.

Batson highlighted several noteworthy technologies, including oral rehydration salts, point-of-care diagnostics, and the SoloShot™ syringe, to illustrate the point that solutions don’t need to be complex or expensive to be effective. She also mentioned recently launched USAID public-private partnerships such as the Saving Lives at Birth Grand Challenge, which leverages the collective resources of the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the governments of the United States, Norway, and Canada to devise innovative prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborns in rural, low-resource settings.

Applying innovation at the country level

Dolly Nyasulu, project director of the Maternal and Newborn Technology Initiative in PATH’s Durban office in South Africa, discussed a low-cost, high-quality neonatal resuscitator that is being used to address the pervasive problem of birth asphyxia.

The condition accounts for more deaths per year in South Africa than malaria or vaccine-preventable diseases. Through a partnership involving PATH, USAID, and Atlantic Philanthropies, a comprehensive strategy was developed to scale up the availability of these resuscitators in hard-to-reach areas in South Africa so that no more newborns die of this preventable condition.

Where the private sector fits in

Dr. Ted Prusik, vice president of the Temptime Corporation, discussed his company’s involvement in developing vaccine vial monitors (VVM), a dime-sized sticker originally designed for use on perishable foods. The project began with funding from USAID and a partnership between PATH and the World Health Organization (WHO) to identify a solution to the issue of vaccine spoilage. Temptime then developed the VVM, which offered a solution to the common problem of vaccine spoilage, potentially saving $5 million per year globally by preventing vaccine waste. The project also contributed to Temptime’s growth and ability to create new jobs in the state of New Jersey, where the company is based. Dr. Prusik showed a WHO video celebrating the ten-year anniversary of this technology’s use in the field.

More information

Coverage of the briefing:

Posted June 21, 2011.