Private Sector and Health Aid

The BBC reports that, “The UN’s aid chief has said there needs to be a more effective partnership between humanitarian organisations and the private sector.” Sir John Holmes pointed to some examples of private sector response, like after the tsunami in Banda Aceh, he commented that, “We have not yet found ways to engage together systematically and productively. This is inward looking and short-sighted,” especially in some of the ongoing crises like Darfur.

If humanitarian needs are short of responses from the private sector, what of ongoing health and development programs?

For several months from early 2008 the Global Fund featured what they termed “Corporate Champions” on the front page of their website.  During the intervening months only Chevron was featured as a champion. Chevron made a commitment of US$ 30 million to the Global Fund at the World Economic Forum in Davos that January.
Product Red was another corporate effort to raise funds through a portion of sales by companies that designated and packaged special red items ranging from shoes to laptops to greeting cards. This effort, launched in 2006, has apparently generated $130 million for HIV/AIDS efforts of the Global Fund.

American Idol is another private source of support. “The Global Fund has been receiving support from ‘Idol Gives Back‘ since 2007. To date, the contribution from the initiative totals US$ 16.6 million.”

The malaria program of GFATM was designated for support from another television program. “Comic Relief in the UK announced that it will contribute £2 million over a two year period to the Global Fund, with funds being directed to support the fight against malaria in Zambia,” in April of this year.

On a continental basis the “MTN Group signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in March this year with the Malaria Community, a network of advocacy groups. The MoU gives expression to the commitment the telecoms operator made earlier in the year to combat malaria. Malaria Group consists of Malaria No More, the John Hopkins University VOICES Project and PATH MACEPA Project.”

MTN, while also being a sponsor of the 2010 Foorball World Cup, is involved in the “United Against Malaria” campaign involving national football associations from Ghana, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Bell, a former Cameroon International goal keeper who is supporting the effort describes his experiences with malaria: “I know a lot about malaria. I could have died before age five. I missed school, I missed practice, and I missed matches because of malaria.”

dsc02162-sm.JPGExxonMobil’s Africa Health Initiative has been focused clearly on malaria targets and is an active RBM Private Sector Partner. “Since the inception of the Africa Health Initiative in 2000, we have committed over $50 million to support efforts to fight malaria through disease prevention, control and treatment programs.”

RBM’s private sector constituency has been mobilized because it “possesses a breadth of expertise and implementation skills – including delivering products and programmes in the developing world. These skills include innovation, production and distribution at global and country levels. Additionally, many enterprises within the private sector have global reach.

The RBM Private Sector Constituency has included A-Z Textile Mills [Arusha], BASF, Bayer, ENI, ExxonMobil, GlaxoSmithKline, H.D. Hudson Manufacturing Company, Novartis, Procter & Gamble, Sanofi Aventis, Sumitomo Chemical, Syngenta, Vestergaard Frandsen, Medecins Sans Frontiers, the World Economic Forum, Development Finance International (DFI), Phoenix Consulting, Premier Medical Corporation, Rio Tinto, Shell International, Sigma Tau SpA, and TropMed Pharma Consulting.

The Private Sector Delegation (PSD) of RBM provides technical assistance. “The Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria (AMFm) which is hosted by the Global Fund has also been drawing on the vast experience of the PSD to inform its deliberations on co-financing mechanisms and effective delivery of the essential medicines to the target populations.”  Members also contribute in cash and kind – supporting malaria efforts where they work, sponsoring innovative demonstration programs, and prividing the malaria commodities that they produce.

The monetary value of private sector support to the global malaria effort may not approach that of large donor programs like the Global Fund, the US President’s Malaria Initiative or the World Bank booster program, but the variety of contributions can provide important lessons that can be adopted by national and donor program efforts.

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