Kristin Schneeman
Director, Programs, FasterCures
Kristin Schneeman joined FasterCures in April 2005 as director of programs, with primary responsibility for its innovation portfolio of projects and activities, focused on best practices in the funding and conduct of medical research and innovative collaborations among players in the research enterprise.
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Global health: Sustaining momentum
By: Kristin Schneeman
May 04, 2011
The field of global health can take a huge measure of pride in the achievements of the last two decades. Millions of lives have been saved, and global health initiatives have become a widely accepted tool of international diplomacy.

But we can't afford to rest on our laurels. Panelists at a Global Conference session (see video) reviewed the challenges facing the field today, including:

  • the economic downturn, which threatens both the flow of capital and the political will to continue to invest it
  • a new focus on chronic diseases in the developing world, which threatens to distract from infectious and neglected tropical diseases
  • the need for human capital to manage and execute programs in developing countries
  • a brain drain of well-educated health workers
  • bottlenecks in the regulatory process

    There's a pressing need to more effectively communicate the progress that's been made and the great returns on these investments to policymakers and the public. "This is not the time to let up," said Regina Rabinovitch of the Gates Foundation. "The world of global health has a history of failed five-year initiatives."

    Ezekiel Emanuel of the NIH noted that global health funding has benefited from bipartisan support. The 2011 budget increased by more than $66 million - quite an achievement in an extremely difficult budget environment. He stressed the need to do a better job of showing Americans the improvements this money is buying, and how our investment in health helps improve economies in the developed world and our own security. He also emphasized the need to package proven interventions, scale them up and push them out to large numbers of people.

    The health needs of developing countries are too great to be left entirely to philanthropy, said Ambassador Amina Ali of the African Union. Creative approaches to private-sector funding and investment are needed for the long term. She also stressed the need for donor coordination and a more integrated approach by NGOs.

    Robert Sebbag of Sanofi-Aventis argued that developed countries have a strong self-interest in these issues; globalization and climate change are bringing some of the diseases of the developing world to the developed world.

    Sebbag also noted that many pharmaceutical companies are realizing that significant growth in the future will come from emerging markets. A different economic approach is required, and that they are gaining valuable knowledge and experience by working in these countries.

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