WASHINGTON D.C. — An investment of $14 billion in global health research and development between 2007 and 2015 resulted in 200,000 new American jobs and a massive return of $33 billion into the U.S. economy, according to a recent study by the Global Health Technologies Coalition and the Policy Cures Research of Australia.
The report sought to inform Congress, the Trump administration, and other stakeholders who make important policy and budget decisions, about the benefits of U.S. investment in global health research and development. It is important for the U.S. to continue financially supporting global health. The private sector has little commercial incentive since many infectious diseases mainly impact those in poorer countries.
The benefits of U.S. investment in global health included the advancement of 42 new technologies, including vaccines, drugs and diagnostics, since 2000.
One important tool that the U.S. helped to develop is a 50-cent meningitis. A vaccine called MenAfriVac is the first vaccine produced using modern technology that will fight meningitis A. The vaccine stopped 673,000 cases of meningitis and 378,000 deaths. By 2020 this cheap vaccine should save the U.S. nine billion dollars that would have been used to treat meningitis. Help from U.S. government agencies like the USAID, CDC, NIH and FDA made this extraordinary feat possible.
The meningitis vaccine is not the only example of domestic benefits of U.S. investment in global health. Most of U.S. funding for global health research and development actually is invested domestically, thus stimulating the U.S. economy.
In 2015, U.S. spending on global health research and development helped to spur economic growth and leverage additional investment from the private sector. U.S. government funding added $1.5 billion into the American economy because the U.S. government invested 89 cents of each U.S. dollar spent on global health and research back into the U.S. Similarly, for every $1 the National Institute of Health (NIH) spends on research, the private sector and individual donors invest an additional $8.38 over the following eight years.
Protecting American health is also one of the benefits of U.S. investment in global health research and development. According to the World Health Organization, “a communicable disease in one country today is the concern of all” due to rapid globalization. The Ebola and Zika virus outbreaks perfectly illustrate how quickly viruses can spread from poor, neglected countries to more developed countries like the U.S. Investing in preventative measures in low-income countries thus helps protect the U.S. too.
Despite the widespread success of U.S. investment in global health research and development, infectious diseases continue to plague the world. Poverty-related and neglected diseases still cause 6.7 million deaths in developing countries every year. However, the level of investment in global health research and development is declining.
The study done by by the Global Health Technologies Coalition and the Policy Cures Research of Australia reveals the global and domestic health and economic benefits of U.S. investment in global health research and development. While the future of U.S. government investments in global health is uncertain, it is evident that significant success for both humanitarian and economic efforts is possible.
– Lauren Mcbride