The Global Campaign for the Health Millennium Development Goals, led by the Norwegian government, has gotten serious about the role of the private sector in improving the health of women and children. Norway has embraced the new thinking in development: that generating demand for interventions from public and private customers is the key to their sustainability.
At the New African Connections meeting last month in Oslo, Rick Klausner, former executive director for global health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and now managing partner of The Column Group, said that the development community’s focus on “scaling up” should be replaced with a focus on viable business models – the appropriate scale, he said, would follow as a matter of course. To underpin this focus on business models, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation hired Dalberg to produce a report on innovation in the health sector, with a special emphasis on women’s and children’s health that parallels the United Nations’ Every Woman, Every Child strategy.
The report, whose draft version is available here, is meant to be both practical and inspirational, with guidance for entrepreneurs and case studies of successful business models. Also online are more case studies and a series of commentaries on innovation by health experts, including recommendations for partnerships between the public, private, and non-profit sectors.
Daniel Altman, Dalberg’s director of thought leadership, presented the draft report at the meeting in Oslo, where other speakers included Kofi Annan, Ted Turner, and Gro Harlem Brundtland, as well as innovators in health, energy, and information technology from across Africa. “One of the most important insights at the conference was that donors and the public sector can kill the market for an innovative product by supplying it for free in a non-sustainable way,” Daniel said. “The private sector can be a huge contributor to economic and social development, but only if it can work with the public and non-profit sectors in a transparent and forward-looking way.”
The final version of the report, which includes a commentary from Dr. Klausner as well as forewords by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, will be published soon. In the meantime, please let us know what you think of the draft report and the other online materials!