This week, many GHTC members will be in New York for the sixty-eighth session of the United Nations’ General Assembly (UNGA), where, among other topics, progress toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be addressed.
Especially relevant this year will be discussions around the post-2015 development agenda. As we close in on the year 2015, and thus the deadline for the MDGs, there is a great deal of speculation about what set of goals, targets, and indicators will drive our development work for the next period. We’ve seen hints through reports released by a High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and by the Secretary General himself. But much of the work remains to be done, and as of yet there is still a great deal of uncertainty about what the agenda will look like in its final form. We should know more after this week.
Although it was good to see achievements brought about by health science and technology noted in both reports, there is a strong need for greater recognition about the need for new medical innovations to carry us through this next period—as well as the commitments and leadership that will get us there. Previous investments in research to develop new vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, and other tools have led to some of the greatest advances in global health to date, saving countless lives and resulting in billions of dollars in cost savings. With sustained investment and support, further gains are achievable: from the eradication of polio, to the elimination of malaria; from controlling and ending the AIDS and TB epidemics, to effectively diagnosing and treating neglected tropical diseases. The post-2015 development agenda must prioritize innovation for health, and I’ll be listening and talking with development leaders this week to discuss how this can be achieved.
Excitingly, innovation seems to be featured in a number of side events that will take place this week—including the MDG Innovation Forum. Through these events, global health and development partners intend to highlight the role that innovation, research and development, and public-private partnerships play in helping us to achieve our development goals.
Research and development for new, innovative health tools will be essential to achieve any international development goals and enable more equitable and sustainable improvements across health services and health outcomes. I hope that global health innovation is strongly supported by leaders during this week’s UNGA and that the discussions held this week will result in concrete support for global health research and product development as a key component of the post-2015 development agenda.
Kaitlin Christenson is the GHTC’s coalition director.