From Davos, the Power of Public-Private Partnerships

By Christoph Benn, Director of External Relations

in Voices on 26 January 2018

The power of public-private partnerships – the very essence of the Global Fund – was on display this week at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos. Three of the world’s leading private companies in their fields – Lombard Odier, Heineken and Unilever – announced partnership agreements with the Global Fund toward a common goal: improving public health and ending HIV, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics. These partnerships further underline the pivotal role the private sector can play in advancing global health to protect communities from infectious diseases and halt emerging health threats.

Private companies have a broad range of expertise and capabilities that can increase the public sector response to disease control, from data management and supply chain logistics to awareness campaigns to the deployment of innovative technology and financial services. And it is not only ‘doing the right thing’ that is driving more and more private investors to health interventions. Increasingly, companies are realizing that solving pressing health challenges such as infectious diseases goes hand-in-hand with sound financial performance. Evidence shows that investments in health in low- and middle-income countries stimulate economic growth, and lead to more stable and prosperous communities and consumers.

Lombard Odier and the Global Fund announced today a strategic partnership to create ways to help the private sector contribute to the Global Fund’s work, while addressing investors’ need to meet their financial goals. The partnership will look, for example, at structures that allow investors to share a proportion of the gains they receive from putting their capital to work. As Patrick Odier, Senior Managing Partner, Lombard Odier Group noted: “Investors no longer need to choose between doing well and doing good. It is becoming easier to meet both goals at the same time.”

Similarly, the Global Fund and Heineken entered into a partnership to fight infectious diseases in Africa. As part of the partnership, Heineken will lend its expertise in logistics and communications to support the Global Fund to better reach specific demographic groups that are most at risk of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Heineken will pair supply chain experts with logistics planners at the Global Fund to share expertise in demand-forecasting and quality control during shipment. Locally, Heineken will support efforts in countries in Africa where the company is present to improve the effectiveness of the “last mile” distribution, which focuses on ensuring the right goods can reach health care facilities and patients in remote areas.

We were also very pleased to announce that Unilever and the Global Fund have combined forces to improve health program effectiveness, reduce infections and save lives fighting HIV and malaria in key geographies in Africa, such as South Africa and Nigeria, and in Asia, with a focus on India and Bangladesh. The partnership will support work in the following areas: HIV prevention programs that focus on adolescent girls and young women; water, sanitation and hygiene programs in malaria case management, particularly for children under 5; supply chain-strengthening initiatives to build in-country capacity and more effective distribution networks; and designing more patient-centric programs. Unilever and the Global Fund have agreed to invest US$5 million each to support these activities over the next three years.

Public-private partnership has always been part of the Global Fund’s DNA. Experience tells us that our best work is done when corporations collaborate with governments, international organizations, donors and non-profits to expand the reach and impact of programs. By collaborating, it is possible to leverage each of the partners’ resources to promote healthy lives and the well-being of the communities served. Through public-private partnerships, we have made unprecedented progress over the last 15 years, supporting programs that have saved more than 22 million lives, while building healthier communities and stronger economies.

Investing in global health is a highly cost-effective way to achieve greater security and stability, protecting communities worldwide from infectious disease and emerging health threats. As demonstrated this week in Davos, the business community is responding to the urgent need to renew our commitment and continue our collective work to build resilient and sustainable systems for health. It is our hope that many more partners will join the Global Fund to achieve a world free from the burden of HIV, TB and malaria.