Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Healthcare for Developing Countries

New sources of funding are needed to stimulate health research specifically for diseases affecting people in developing countries. This is according to the report “Research and Development to Meet Health Needs in Developing Countries” published by an international expert group referred to as the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research & Development Financing and Coordination (CEWWG).

The working group proposes a package of changes that includes utilizing open knowledge innovation and prizes as incentives, mandatory government commitments, pooling of funding, and an international binding convention on global health research.

Further recommendations are to:

  • Make research outputs available to the public or through open licensing
  • Patent pools need to be used to increase sharing research results
  • Pooled funds should be used for direct grants to companies that can help promote technology transfer
  • WHO should play a central coordinating role in global health research
  • Countries must be willing to commit at least .01 percent of gross domestic product on research to develop health technologies

In another development, USAID’s new Innovation Fund for the Americas (IFA) is now available to support innovative solutions needed in Latin America and the Caribbean region. Successful applicants for the funding can apply grants ranging from $100,000 to $15 million to pilot, rigorously test, and bring their ideas to scale. For more information, go to http://idea.usaid.gov/div/ifa.   

In another project to help Latin America and the Caribbean region, the new Broadband Partnership for the Americas (BPA) was recently signed by USAID and the FCC. BPA will enable participating countries to harness significant potential of broadband technology to expand broadband across the Americas by:

  • Creating or upgrading universal service funds to finance the expansion of mobile and broadband technologies to rural communities
  • Improving international and regional connectivity by linking existing broadband networks
  • Collaborating on a regional effort to harmonize the use of digital spectrum
  • Sharing best practices

While 80 percent of the Latin America and Caribbean population has access to mobile phones, only 40 percent have internet access and in Central America and the Caribbean internet access is only at 20 percent.

Broadband penetration in this area is estimated to be 29 percent, falling just below the global average. The Inter-American Development Bank reports that a 10 percent increase in the region’s broadband subscriptions would boost GDP by 3.19 percent and increase productivity by 2.6 percent.

The BPA to be managed by USAID’s Global Broadband and Innovations (GBI) Alliance will improve access to the internet by deploying technical assistance through the U.S. government’s Technology Leadership Program and the FCC’s International Visitors Program.

Also, to mobilize private and public sector resources, the GBI Alliance with “NetHope” and FCC’s relationship with “Connect2Compete” are going to work together to explore alliances with other regional multilateral organizations.