January 22, 2015 – Davos, Switzerland
Check Against Delivery
Thank you, Joanne.
And thank you to the Center for Global Health and Diplomacy for giving us this opportunity to explore the crucial role of the private sector in global health security.
Next time you are in a hospital—here or in Canada—take a look around the lobby and I’m sure you will find a row of pay phones.
There aren’t many people using them now but we still have them for the few citizens who don’t have cell phones.
And because they are the legacy of a century of building infrastructure.
But go to a medical clinic in Uganda and you will not see those rows of pay phones.
You won’t see many of them at all in sub-Saharan Africa because few communities have ever had the money to build an expensive phone network.
What you will find are cell phones scattered all over Africa.
Some individuals can afford them, and they require little physical infrastructure to run.
And so you might find something in Uganda that hasn’t even caught on here.
It’s a medical sensor called the Phone Oximeter, which connects to a smartphone.
Combined with an app, it turns a front-line health worker’s phone into a simple tool to measure blood oxygen levels and detect illnesses such as pneumonia or pre-eclampsia.
These basic diagnostics aren’t the cure for HIV/AIDS or a next-generation vaccine.
But they do leverage the tools that health workers have in developing countries to save lives in their communities.
This is a revolutionary field, an exciting one, and it’s vital to our next steps in global health security.
Canada is proud to be a supporting partner in the development of the Phone Oximeter and other innovative solutions to health challenges, through links with innovators and investors in the private sector.
The Phone Oximeter is just one example, but it’s at the core of Canada’s vision and experience in increasing the role of the private sector in global health security.
I’d like to give you a brief overview of what we mean by this.
For most people, when they hear the term “global health security”, Ebola and other deadly diseases spring to mind.
Although responding to such crises is a critical aspect of global health security—and Canada is playing a leadership role in the fight against Ebola—that is only one part of the story.
Global health security is about addressing the underlying causes of these crises.
It’s about building stronger health systems so that we can respond to health security challenges in a more resilient way.
It’s about strengthening the capacity for routine immunization so we can provide massive vaccinations should we face a pandemic.
It’s about ensuring that the poorest and most vulnerable in society have access to the health services, nutrition and medicine they need to live healthy and productive lives.
Global health security is also critical for sustainable economic growth.
The case for women and children is particularly strong.
The poor health of mothers is linked to the poor health of babies and the failure of children to reach their full mental and physical potential.
When children are sick and undernourished, their entry into school is delayed.
Their attendance and performance at school suffers, and with that, their economic prospects.
In turn, countries that have major health problems, like high rates of malaria and HIV, have difficulty attracting investments and growing their economies.
With this in mind, Canada has played a catalytic role in mobilizing global support for maternal, newborn and child health.
We led the G-8 Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in 2010, which garnered $7.3 billion from governments and international partners around the world.
We also hosted the Saving Every Woman, Every Child summit in Toronto last May.
There, our government pledged an additional $3.5 billion to this cause between 2015 and 2020.
However, despite increased financial commitments, significant gaps remain.
It is estimated that an additional $30 billion US per year is required to fully scale up health strategies across the 70 or so countries with the highest rates of maternal and child deaths.
In fact, at current levels of investment, all sectors critical to the achievement of the post-2015 development goals remain massively underfunded.
Simply put, the traditional way of financing development simply will not suffice.
Canada is looking to use our official development assistance in more innovative ways to mobilize and leverage additional resources for development, including global health.
This includes deepening and broadening our partnerships with the private sector.
While the Government of Canada has a lot of experience in supporting sustainable development, the private sector has a wealth of experience in marketing and product development that we cannot match.
The private sector is accustomed to moving in uncharted territory—a frontier spirit that looks on new and undeveloped markets as opportunities.
And that is exactly what the health sector in developing countries is: the poles of growth have swung in favour of emerging markets.
The World Bank says so.
The investment houses say so.
Past experience with frontier markets—including Canada’s, over the entire 20th century—suggests that those who invest early and wisely can create enormous and lasting benefits for the communities they work in.
In turn, these innovators and investors become integral to markets that grow with them.
Canada has an interest in supporting its developing-country partners to expand their roles as trading partners, allies in foreign affairs, and players on the world stage.
We will continue in that supporting role—but the private sector is the engine that will drive change.
That is why Canada is exploring innovative blended finance models.
Over the years, through trial and error, Canada has learned a great deal about how to effectively deploy financing towards global development challenges.
And we have seen the results that are possible when we get this right.
Let me give you a few examples.
In 2007, Canada was one of five donor countries, along with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to launch the first Advance Market Commitment for a pneumococcal vaccine in developing countries.
Through this approach, donors make a financial commitment to the GAVI Alliance to help pay for the future purchase of the pneumococcal vaccine.
This is critical as pneumonia kills more than one million children each year.
Normally, new life-saving vaccines only reach low-income countries years after being introduced in high-income countries, and often at unaffordable prices.
But the Advance Market Commitment creates incentives for vaccine makers to produce affordable vaccines for the world’s poorest countries right now—usually at a price that is 90 percent lower than the cost of the same vaccine in Europe and the United States.
So far, 26 million children in more than 46 developing countries have been immunized against pneumonia.
Estimates indicate that this initiative will save 500,000 lives by 2015 and as many as 1.5 million by 2020.
It is encouraging to see an increase in market-based approaches like this in recent years.
Our government also supports Grand Challenges Canada, which seeds new ideas, such as the Phone Oximeter I mentioned earlier, and scales up innovative solutions to global health problems.
Its Saving Lives at Birth initiative has produced innovations like the Solar Suitcase, an economical, easy-to-use portable power unit that provides health workers with medical lighting and power.
Another great example of a successful public-private-civil society partnership is the Zinc Alliance for Child Health.
It involves a Canadian mining company called Teck Resources, the Government of Canada, and the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization working to address under-nutrition.
This alliance delivers zinc supplements and oral rehydration salts to treat diarrhea, which is one of the most common killers of children in developing countries.
These kinds of partnerships and innovations are saving lives, but we need to do more and we need to do it better.
That is why our Government is leading on redesigning development finance with a greater focus on impact and return.
The Re-Designing Development Finance Initiative is a joint venture between the World Economic Forum—which is funded by the business community—and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee, which is funded by donors.
I highlight this to emphasize the shared-value aspect of this initiative.
The “redesign” portion is key as it is expected to fundamentally impact the way the public sector partners with foundations and the private sector.
The objective is to expand the pool of foreign and domestic capital to help developing countries accelerate social and economic progress.
The appeal of this initiative is that it can mobilize funds for any sector, including health.
By the end of this year, we hope to create a useable portfolio of innovative finance models.
And forge new blended finance partnerships that lead to concrete projects and real development results.
Development finance is a complex web of actors, sectors, geographies, instruments, and terminologies.
Today, these networks are not set up to maximize development impact.
But Canada is changing that.
Once again, I want to thank the Center for Global Health and Diplomacy for giving us the opportunity to explore how we can work together in the coming years.
This is an important first step to ensuring that the private sector is a key part of the global health security conversation.
And that together, we are forging a new path to harness the power of the private sector to save lives.