We Are All In This Together

By Mark Dybul, Executive Director

in Voices on 02 August 2016

As the global health community continues to work on ways to strengthen health interventions to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, business leaders in India are actively working on their own approach – one that draws on local resources, private sector expertise and ground-roots support.

Under the leadership of Mr. Ratan Naval Tata, Tata Trusts in India, which has over the years driven improved healthcare through its various initiatives, has just launched the India Health Fund together with the Global Fund and USAID, with the aim of engaging philanthropic capital within India to create a tuberculosis- and malaria-free India.

The India Health Fund is an innovative financing platform that will help leverage and pool private sector resources and expertise to support health programs that are supported by the Global Fund and other partners. The India Health Fund plans to support innovative programs and projects that help expand existing effective solutions against communicable diseases, and further bend the curves of the diseases by bringing these solutions to scale. The investments made by this fund will be aligned to India’s national strategies for the diseases and will be linked to government platforms and other private health networks. Moreover, they will complement national and other partners’ investments in tuberculosis and malaria, with focus on products, services and outreach strategies that directly address diagnosis and treatment. Other focus areas of the fund will be strengthening public and private health systems, addressing underlying vulnerabilities that impact infection rates, as well as research, development and impact assessments of new solutions.

Every year in India, reportedly up to 1,000 people die of malaria – the majority of them children. Tuberculosis – a disease closely related to poverty and that spreads quickly in cramped living conditions with poor sanitation such as slums – kills 250,000 people in the country each year, and an estimated 2.2 million people fall ill. India has one of the highest caseloads of multidrug-resistant TB, increasing the complexity and cost of treatment and posing a growing threat to neighboring countries. These two diseases, both preventable and treatable, put strain on Indian health care systems, and continue to trap millions of Indians in an enduring cycle of poverty. Children miss school due to recurring bouts of malaria. Parents sick with TB can’t work, depriving their families of much-needed income. If we are to end TB and malaria as epidemics, India must be at the center of the fight.

The India Health Fund is one of its kind, and it’s expected to inspire other countries to do the same, an important step in the fight against the worst diseases of our time, but also in supporting countries to build resilient and sustainable systems for health. We are proud to partner with Tata Trusts to jointly create a new, catalytic platform for philanthropy, and leverage private sector excellence to end tuberculosis and malaria in India.

By bringing about more and more players to the fight, we promote and contribute to achieving transformative impact to deliver effective results in global health. At a time when many parts of the world face growing turmoil from social and economic change, we can either succumb to fear and look backward and inward, or we can harness the power of the human spirit into positive change by looking forward and outward. Working together as people, as communities, as nations, all connected – we can solve tremendous problems, including ending deadly epidemics.

Only by working in partnership, fostering innovation and program effectiveness we can achieve the goal of ending the epidemics. We commend the work by this private sector initiative to engage financial resources and expertise with the final goal of promoting global solidarity and a world free from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.