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Achieving a Sustainable Future through Health Partnerships

24 September 2013,

On 24 September during the UN General Assembly, the Geneva-based International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), the Government of Japan, and the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT) hosted a side event called ‘Achieving a Sustainable Future through Health Partnerships.’ Taking place at Pfizer headquarters in New York, the event attracted more than 80 participants including diplomats, UN officials, product-development partnerships and NGO leaders.

IFPMA Director General, Eduardo Pisani, welcomed participants. The global research-based pharmaceutical industry association, IFPMA, has been a consultative partner in official relations with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) for decades and attaches a high priority to collaborating with global institutions. Mr. Pisani highlighted contributions by the research-based pharmaceutical industry since 2000 toward achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which clearly demonstrates the value and the impact of collaboration and partnership in global health. Today, there are over 220 partnerships around the world involving the pharmaceutical industry to reduce suffering caused by a wide range of diseases. These programs focus on disease prevention, health system capacity building, pharmaceutical research and development, and medicine and vaccine donations.

Dr. Shiro Konuma, Director of Global Health Policy Division of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, described work of the GHIT Fund, of which he is a Board member. This first-of-its-kind partnership in Japan promotes the discovery and development of new health technologies, including drugs, vaccines and diagnostics, for infectious diseases prevalent in developing countries. Facilitating international partnerships that enable Japanese technology, innovations, and insights to play a more direct role in reducing disparities in health between the world’s rich and poor this innovative public-private partnership (PPP) is a consortium of Japanese pharmaceutical companies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Caroline Roan, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Pfizer Inc. and President of The Pfizer Foundation, described how applying the company’s resources, expertise, and medicines make both social and business sense. She explained that the past ten years of success – and failure – have demonstrated that multi-stakeholder partnerships are the key to sustainability. Ms. Roan also described Pfizer’s efforts, with governments, foundations and NGOs, to expand access to vaccines for children through innovative mechanisms like Advanced Market Commitments. Additionally, Ms. Roan said, the company will continue to promote family planning and reproductive health in least developed countries and to enhance the capacity of health systems, health workers, and NGOs on the ground in developing countries through programs like the Pfizer Global Health Fellows.

Aron Cramer, President and CEO of Business for Social Responsibilty, recounted how BSR’s Healthcare Working Group developed the “Guiding Principles on Access to Healthcare” (GPAH) to help frame and describe the healthcare industry’s approach to reducing the global burden of disease and improving global health outcomes. A set of industry-wide principles, the GPAH recognize the importance of five core areas: collaboration, research and development, expanding availability of healthcare services, developing health systems resources, and respecting human rights. The GPAH were signed by several CEOs of major healthcare companies with global leadership in pharmaceuticals, vaccines, diagnostics, and other medical technology. Mr. Cramer also described how BSR works with its global network of more than 250 member companies, and from offices in Asia, Europe, and North and South America, to develop sustainable business strategies and solutions in order to build a just and sustainable world.

Dr. Mel Spigelman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Alliance for Tuberculosis (TB) Drug Development (TB Alliance), underscored the global health impact of cross-sector partnerships. Dr. Spigelman focused his remarks on the problem of TB and drug-resistant TB as well as on the needs for new treatments and for forging new partnerships. In particular, he applauded the promising work of the GHIT Fund.

The discussion echoed themes raised by the global community during UN Week to chart the path to better and sustainable prosperity in the 21st Century. Mr. Pisani concluded the event by stressing that unmet medical needs demand continued innovative biopharmaceutical research –a key role of innovative pharmaceutical companies – and supporting biomedical research equals supporting global health.

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