“I think we’re getting smarter about looking at the whole disease…We’re looking at things more holistically.” – Melinda Gates Speaking at the recent Global Health Product Development forum in Seattle, Bill and Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation expressed a desire to move toward a more comprehensive approach to global health that looks beyond the “just another drug company” model. With its emphasis on technological innovation grounded in extensive funding of R&D efforts, the Gates Foundation is often identified as a proponent of the “techno-fix.” While this pattern of creating low-cost and effective drugs and vaccines provides some victories in fighting diseases of poverty, a greater focus on social, political and rights-based factors contributing to global inequities is required. “Diseases don’t disproportionately attack the poor because bugs are afraid of rich people; the poor suffer more from disease because they are poor and lack affordable, reliable access to basic health care, to clean water and good food or even just basic information” – Tom Paulson (article writer)The Gates Foundations’ new program aptly dubbed “integrated delivery” seeks to expand upon its typically narrow and drug-centric strategies by further emphasizing the role of people in global health delivery. The more holistic approach highlights the importance of effective and efficient systems in ensuring the necessary healthcare services reach the people who need them. What good is a life-saving intervention or drug that never makes it to the people who need it? This is why Hope Through Health uses an integrated community-based delivery system to provide care to its over 1700 patients.
The past 10 years has shown that our system works to ensure that high quality healthcare is available to all in our catchment area in Togo. HTH is excited that the Gates Foundation has revamped its principles. Combining effective treatments and strong healthcare delivery systems to distribute these treatments will lead to better health outcomes.