Now one could argue that there are a number of problems with the way that medical and health systems are developed. After all, isn’t it a lot more convenient to just have a single system developed instead of having to develop a variety of systems? Another person might suggest that the entire purpose behind such a global health project is so that everybody has access to the same type of care. The problem with this line of thinking is that it doesn’t actually address whether or not everybody has access to the same type of care.
To take my private sector development in global health into consideration, I have to ask you to imagine for a moment that you’re not a doctor. And now I’m going to tell you something that nobody ever tells you when you’re studying abroad in a foreign country: You know, doctors are like surgeons… they work in a small space. What you really want to do is to make things bigger so that you can see everything that needs to be seen in a larger space. The GLD would give you a bigger picture; it wouldn’t necessarily get you to the answer you need.
Global health care isn’t like that. What I mean by that is that if you need to go to a specific part of the world for a particular medical treatment, you don’t necessarily have to go there. For instance, if you are suffering from a severe allergic reaction in India, you can simply take an anti-allergy medication in the UK and get to your doctor. However, if you’re suffering from a heart attack in China, you’d probably best to find a Chinese hospital to receive your treatment.
The problems come back to the fact that the development of the GLD hasn’t been focused enough. For instance, although there are some organizations and governments involved in the development of the GLD, they are not nearly enough. There needs to be an integrated plan put together that will be effective at reducing poverty, improving healthcare, empowering women and creating a more stable environment for the future. In addition, the Millennium Development Goals should be used as the impetus for increased international cooperation to solve major problems such as HIV and AIDS.
Let me bring this up because although there have been a number of private sector developments in the health sector, most of them focus on providing basic health care like giving vaccines and other relevant medicines. Not very many of them have been able to take my private sector development to the next level. What do I mean by this? Simply put, the healthcare sector needs to be seen as a zero-sum game where the ‘players’ are mainly the poor countries who don’t have the resources to provide comprehensive healthcare. The reason why is because in private sector development projects, the focus is primarily on the profit margins and not on developing the service delivery system that will make things better for the people who use the services. For instance, even though vaccines are very important, you cannot expect poor countries to pay a lot of money for them because they don’t have the necessary financial resources to purchase them.
To put it bluntly, you cannot have development in the service sectors without development in the infrastructure sectors. And this is where private sector development can make a huge difference. You see, it doesn’t matter that the drugs you produce cost a lot of money – what really matters is whether you have the infrastructure to deliver them. If you do not have the necessary facilities, then you will not be able to sustain your production rate. And this means that you won’t be able to realize your R&D costs and will have to shut down your private sector development projects.
In summary, I want to stress the need for all developed countries to look closely at how they can integrate their health policies and practices with those of the private sector so that they can address some of the major challenges they face in the implementation of health programmes. Our health systems are woefully underfunded and many are seriously facing chronic shortages of essential resources. The solutions are simple and they are not complicated. Just look at how you managed to address health problems before the 1990s and how much effort you have put into devising national frameworks for health. Now, put these tools to work and you will see how simple it is to develop effective strategies that can truly address the global challenges of the day.