Government investment spurs innovation

April 20, 2011 by PATH

PATH advocacy director makes the case for funding health technologies

PATH's Rachel Wilson gives testimony before House members including Congresswomen Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Kay Granger (R-TX). Photo: PATH/Aaron Emmel.

Investment by the US Government in technologies for global health can encourage private-sector collaboration, Rachel Wilson, Policy and Advocacy Director at PATH, recently told members of the House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. The subcommittee heard testimony from 24 witnesses, including Wilson, on funding for the 2012 fiscal year.

In her remarks before Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY), Wilson advocated for product development and delivery at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), asking subcommittee members to support President Obama’s request for the 2012 federal budget. She highlighted the role USAID plays in developing, adapting, and introducing health products to address conditions and diseases in the developing world, especially through its support of the HealthTech program and malaria vaccine development and introduction.

One example: a simple syringe

Wilson showcased the SoloShot™, designed by the HealthTech program with support from USAID, as an example of smart US Government investments. The project used an initial $284,000 investment from USAID to leverage $15 million from the private sector to develop a single-use, disposable syringe. In late 2010, the SoloShot™ was used to deliver nearly 20 million doses of a new vaccine against meningitis—also developed with partial support from USAID—to children and young adults in sub-Saharan Africa.

Wilson urged USAID's strong and continued support of tools and interventions to combat malaria while praising the agency's support in developing a vaccine against the disease. USAID currently supports PATH’s Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI), which is pursuing effective malaria vaccines, as well as MVI’s efforts to assist African governments as officials decide on the use of a malaria vaccine once one becomes available. Wilson also highlighted the critical role the GAVI Alliance will play in implementation once a vaccine is ready for introduction.

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