Political leaders join experts on health and finance to call for innovation in sustainable funding

DAVOS, Switzerland, 24 January 2014 – Finding innovative ways to optimize funding for health programmes in developing and middle-income countries will be key to their development and economic growth, according to global health experts and political leaders meeting in Davos on the side lines of the World Economic Forum.

At a private dinner on Thursday night convened by the Center for Global Health and Diplomacy and its partners, a diverse group of health and finance experts, donors and corporate partners discussed how they could work together to advance new financing mechanisms to optimize the return on investments in health.

Participants included Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, USAID’s Dr. Rajiv Shah, BD’s Gary Cohen, Johnson & Johnson’s Dr. Paul Stoffels, and Dr. Seth Berkley of the GAVI Alliance.

With traditional models of donor funding under sustained pressure, the distinguished group addressed a future in which national governments will take on an increasing responsibility for funding their own health programmes and opportunities to create efficiencies at the country level to make best use of available resources.

Urging countries to stop early marriage and instead empower girls and women to play an equal role in shaping their society’s future, Minister Baird said Canada was committed to working with partners to focus on this issue and bring results.

“We want to see society taking advantage of every member of that society. It is not just a question of human rights, it’s about development and economic growth,” he said.

Dr. Muhammad Yunus proposed a dramatic reduction in the cost of delivering health services at the grass roots level driven by technology and funded through social business solutions.

“The future of health services is technology,” he said. “Technologies such as mobile phones can now be used to deliver healthcare from people’s homes, literally bringing services to people’s doorsteps and saving so many costs.”

Gary Cohen, Executive Vice President of BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) emphasized the need to ensure that future financing prioritizes vulnerable populations.

"While impressive overall progress has been made since 2000, adolescent girls and young women continue to be disproportionately impacted by HIV and AIDS, in part due to their vulnerability to sexual violence,” he said.  “Newborns now represent almost half of all child mortality due to their inherent vulnerability and lack of access to life saving interventions," he added.

“We are at a critical point in history, where we have the tools and momentum to fundamentally transform health outcomes in even the poorest countries,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance.

“Capturing this opportunity will require that everyone do their part. In the coming decade, we will need donors to sustain the unprecedented levels of funding they have committed to global health. Over time, countries will need to take on a growing share of the cost, as they are already doing in immunisation by co-financing the support they receive from GAVI. And the resources and capabilities of the private sector will also be critical,” Dr. Berkley added.

Dr. Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, emphasized the importance of reaching the unreached with life-saving health services.

“We in the Stop TB Partnership have a clear vision that we can end tuberculosis as a public health crisis, but we can only do this if high burden countries are in the driving seat to integrate health services for their people and prioritize interventions. We also must dramatically strengthen our collaboration with the private sector, and not only seeing it as a funding source, or as a service provider.  We also need their business minds to help us make a strong investment case for TB that can demonstrate the imperative of bold action to get ahead of the crisis.”

The dinner discussion, moderated by Global Health and Diplomacy’s President, Joanne Manrique was filmed and will be available for viewing at

The new edition of the center’s flagship publication Global Health and Diplomacy launched in Davos this week contains a special feature on women and girls’ health with articles by John Baird, UN Foundation’s CEO Kathy Calvin and President of Women Deliver Jill Sheffield.

“Women and children are central to development and sustainable growth and we each need to play our part to close the gaps between girls, women and the resources they want and need to shape their futures,” said Jill Sheffield, who did not travel to Davos.

Launched in 2012, the Center for Global Health and Diplomacy convenes a dialogue between heads of government, ministers, donors, the private sector and global health experts to address challenges in improving health.

For questions and interview requests,  please contact Paula Majumdar at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.