Giving Compass’ Take:
• Chris Elias, the president of global development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, shares lessons from a life dedicated to making vaccines faster, cheaper and easier to deliver.
• What can we learn about the state of public health based on Elias’ experiences, and how to increase the efficacy of interventions? One thing is to think beyond technology: Know the conditions on the ground.
Today, four out of five of children worldwide receive a suite of vaccines against diseases like measles, TB, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and hepatitis thanks to universal immunization programs. According to Chris Elias, the president of global development at the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, “We have to reach that fifth child. But … that fifth child isn’t standing next to the other four. That child is in a war zone, is a displaced person in a vulnerable area where they may not even be counted. They’re in an urban slum.” In fact, 60% of children who do not receive universal immunizations live in just ten countries, seven of which are fragile states.
Elias’s job is to find ways to ensure that solutions and products get into the hands of people in developing countries who need them most. Over his four-decade career in global health and development, he has worked as a pediatrician in a refugee camp on the Thailand-Cambodia border, piloted HIV/AIDS prevention programs in Southeast Asia, and overseen the development of an affordable meningitis vaccine that he predicts will save 150,000 lives by 2020. Prior to joining the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he oversees an annual $4 billion spend on global health, education, and poverty reduction programs, Elias served as the president and CEO of public health nonprofit PATH.
“You have to go beyond just creating new technologies. You have to think about the systems into which those technologies will have to be delivered in order for you to have the impact that you want to have in improving children’s livelihood and reducing their mortality.”
Listen to the full podcast about immunizing the developing world at the Airbel Center (via Medium).
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