Innovative Partnerships to mend a Fractured World

in innovative •  last year 

Last year at the World Economic Forum, the Chinese president Xi Jinping emerged as a champion for globalization. So, this year, it was interesting to then watch the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi step up to do the same. Highlighting the backlash against globalization as one of the most significant challenges we face today, Modi struck a chord that resonated with this year’s theme “A Shared Future in a Fractured World.”

In the global health sphere, we have seen this fractured world reflected in the response to global health threats in recent years. The rise of little-known diseases such as Zika and Chikungunya have highlighted the shaky foundations of global health security and reinforced the need for a concerted effort to tackle such threats.

As a public-private partnership, collaboration is at the core of Gavi’s work. At the annual Gavi private sector breakfast, in Davos, I was joined by representatives from many of the partners that have contributed to Gavi’s success over the last 18 years – donors, private sector partners and Gavi-supported governments. In his address to the group, Bill Gates celebrated our success in bringing about the dream that was articulated when it was first conceived.

In addition to celebrating the success of these established partnerships, the breakfast gave us the opportunity to announce new collaborations.

A new partnership between Gavi, Orange and the government of Cote d’Ivoire aims to reach more than 800,000 children in regions where vaccine coverage is currently the lowest in the country. Text and voice messages will remind parents of the dates of their child’s vaccinations as well as the importance of being vaccinated.

A partnership between the government of Uganda, UPS and Freight in Time (FIT) will help improve efficiency of vaccine delivery. As Gavi’s first African supply chain partner, FIT will transport and track all vaccine shipments to over 150 clinics, as well as monitoring the cold chain and vaccine storage.

At Gavi we champion innovation and are always on the lookout for new ways to use technology to improve vaccine coverage. However, we also recognize that there is a risk associated with new innovations. Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, drones and blockchain have huge potential, but it is crucial that they are developed and deployed in such a way that they have a sustainable and positive impact for all. With this in mind, Gavi will also be the first international non-profit organization to partner with WEF’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in California.

This impressive initiative aims to bring together business leaders, governments, civil society, academia and international organizations to develop policy that addresses emerging technologies. Amongst other achievements, it has already partnered with the Rwandan government to help them regulate the roll-out of drones across the country and we can use that experience to help other countries as they move forward on their drone programs. The first Center opened in San Francisco in 2016, and at this year’s WEF it was announced that affiliates are set to open in India, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

Elsewhere at Davos, world leaders debated some of the most significant challenges we face today: from poverty and gender inequality to climate change and global health security. During the week, delegates had the chance to participate in epidemic simulations and I had the pleasure to moderate a session on Preparing for the Next Epidemic.

Despite the growing fractures that risk separating us, these shared dangers should unite us all. As many world leaders emphasized throughout the meeting, it will only be possible to address these challenges by working together. Gavi’s success over the past 18 years is a testament to what collaboration can achieve: working with partners, we will have helped vaccinate 700 million children and prevent 10 million deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases by the end of this year. We know that we can achieve so much more working in partnership. Given the scale of the challenges we face, this lesson has rarely been more relevant.

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