10 Aug Partnerships for Innovation and Disruption Key to Achieve SDG 3
Since 2000, we have seen impressive gains on tackling leading killers and key infectious diseases prioritised in the Millennium Development Goals. For example, the child mortality rate has fallen by 44% since 2000, while new cases of TB and HIV fell 45% and 17% respectively between 2000 and 2017. As the SDGs pick up the mantle as the universal call to arms, the growing public health burden and economic costs of lifestyle diseases, including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease will need to be addressed through new models and partnerships.
These health priorities represent global challenges, impacting both developed and developing countries. India, that has the largest population of under-nourished people, now has the second largest population of obese children globally, at 14.4 million, trailing behind China. India is also home to the largest number of people suffering from Type 2 diabetes globally. Two-thirds of the population in Mexico, Chile and Ecuador are now obese, with associated costs rising in Mexico to USD 13 billion/year, according to UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). In response, regulatory actions in the form of sugar taxes are increasingly being put into effect in countries from the US to Mexico to address rising levels of obesity.
SDG 3, on Good Health and Wellbeing, is a call to action for governments and the global health industry to not only double down on efforts to reduce infectious diseases and maternal and child mortality rates, but additionally to reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable, i.e. lifestyle, diseases through prevention and treatment. While developing new forms of treatment for these diseases is a clear business imperative for pharmaceutical companies, a more strategic alignment with sustainability imperatives is key to the growth of the industry, including affordable access to quality health and medical advice and treatment, in developed and emerging economies.
However, global pharma companies will need to look beyond medicines in tackling these challenges. Cross-industry partnerships and embracing disruptive change in the industry will offer new avenues of sustainable growth for both the industry and societal health and wellbeing. For example, Qualcomm Life, the medical tech subsidiary of the multinational semiconductor and telecommunications company Qualcomm, have formed numerous partnerships with health insurers, consumer electronics, and pharmaceutical companies, from UnitedHealthcare to Phillips, Johnson & Johnson and Novartis, to develop new offerings that improve health outcomes.
The company has also established the USD 10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize, focused on medical device innovation, and the Qualcomm Life Fund, a USD 100 million fund to accelerate early stage wireless medical device companies, often consumer electronics companies focussing on disruptive tech solutions to overcome barriers to change in the sector and help consumers shift to more sustainable and healthy lifestyles. Accelerators and incubators will be key for major global pharma companies to collaborate on innovation and diversify their own product portfolios to deliver better health and wellbeing outcomes.
(Photo Credit: Diabetes / oh dawie / Flickr)