Better healthcare will require more collaboration

The GAVI Alliance for vaccinations and the International Business Leaders Forum held a one-day conference in London this week that symbolised the shadow the financial crisis has cast over global health – and offered a glimmer of optimism.”About health – let’s show we mean business” highlighted the pressures of the downturn, which will almost certainly result in slowed progress in tackling illness and death in the developing world after several years of considerable gains.

But the meeting focused on solutions, including the need for growing use of “hybrid” models that bring together the public, private and non-profit sectors to tackle issues as diverse as drug development and supply chain logistics. It requires sharing of information, the need for incentives, accountability and management.

In a spirit of collaboration that will surely be essential over the coming years, GAVI shared the stage with other non-governmental organisations, such as the Medicines for Malaria Venture, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, the International Partnership for Microbicides, the International Aids Vaccine Initiative and PATH, which helps bring innovations to the poor.

A good deal more such joint working will be required in future, putting aside the individual and often conflicting agendas of donors and implementing agencies, in the cause of common objectives to improve health outcomes.

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Margaret McCartney is a Glasgow-based GP and FT Weekend columnist. She started writing for the Life and Arts section in 2005 and moved to the magazine in 2008. She also has her own blog: www.margaretmccartney.com/blog

Clive Cookson has been a science journalist for the whole of his working life. He joined the FT in 1987. Clive, the FT's science editor, picks out the research that everyone should know about. He also discusses key policy issues, from R&D funding to science education.

Andrew Jack is pharmaceuticals correspondent, covering the industry and public health issues. He has been a journalist with the FT for 19 years, based in London, Paris and Moscow

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