Trevor Mundel, President of Global Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, highlights the role of innovation in driving down the burden of communicable diseases around the world, and calls on Commonwealth governments to accelerate the next phase of progress through investment in global health research and development.
“Combined with greater resources, increased political leadership and improvements in health delivery systems, investment in innovation has fuelled a 21st century renaissance for human health.”
In today’s world, we experience the benefits of innovation every day. For many people, journeys that once took weeks now take only hours; information previously accessible to a few can be retrieved by millions; people thousands of miles apart can connect instantly using devices that fit in the palm of their hands.
Yet, none of these advancements has done more to shape modern society than the innovations in how we fight disease. In my lifetime, the advent of new tools to prevent, diagnose and treat infectious diseases such as malaria, polio, typhoid, river blindness and dozens of other maladies, has dramatically reduced the burden of sickness and poverty around the world.
Take measles, a highly contagious and often deadly disease. When I was born in 1960, measles circulated indiscriminately around the world, killing an estimated 2.6 million people every year, most of them children under the age of five. Just three years later, the first measles vaccine was introduced and the tide began to turn. Today, measles deaths have fallen by more than 95 per cent…
President of Global Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation