Press Release

November 11, 2014

Call for greater collaboration between East and West to tackle inevitable threat of infectious diseases

Tokyo-based GHIT Fund aims to transform global health R&D and accelerate drug discovery for infectious diseases through strategic partnerships and significant research investments


[11 November, Tokyo] Today, the Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund and the Embassy of Japan convened a panel of leading global health experts in London to collectively call for greater cross-border collaboration to ensure global preparedness for the inevitable resurgence of infectious diseases, including TB, Malaria, HIV/AIDS and Neglected Tropical Diseases.


A new Japanese-led initiative, the GHIT Fund, is the world’s first product development fund for global health R&D and aims to advance the development of drugs, vaccines and diagnostics. Through facilitating international partnerships and providing research funding via a grant-making investment mechanism, the GHIT Fund enables Japanese innovation to play a more direct role in reducing health disparities worldwide.


The threat of global epidemics has highlighted the failure of the current commercial R&D model to keep up with the moving targets of infectious diseases. Researchers now need to start looking at new ways to drive drug development to rapidly address the threats that infectious diseases pose in order to meet the needs of developing world populations.


The GHIT Fund invests in the efficient and effective development of novel health technologies based on data-driven and outcomes-oriented decisions. These investments have the potential to save millions of lives and drastically improve health in the developing world.


Dr. B.T. Slingsby, CEO and Executive Director of the GHIT Fund, said, “The GHIT Fund uniquely measures impact and progress against rigorous criteria and metrics throughout the product development process. This enables us to quantitatively assess the results of our development partners and ultimately understand the health, social and economic impact of our work. Huge R&D efforts are required to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment and we urge governments, industry and academia to engender a stronger political voice for fighting infectious diseases.”


The GHIT Fund is an independent body funded by the government of Japan, five leading Japanese pharmaceutical companies, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Speaking about the Gates Foundation’s involvement, Dr. Trevor Mundel, President of the Global Health Division said “The re-emergence of infectious diseases has been a global wake-up call and it’s essential we look in new directions and explore new opportunities for developing solutions. We need better knowledge sharing through partnerships between high and middle-income countries, donors and developing countries. The Gates Foundation wholly support the mission of the GHIT Fund and encourages researchers and academic institutions to look to the organization when seeking collaboration and funding opportunities.”


Globally, 3 out of 7 people are at risk of contracting a major infectious disease and 1 in 7 is infected with a major infectious disease. The need for concerted action to create a current framework for R&D that invests in accelerating innovations for neglected populations is needed now more than ever.


Professor Peter Piot, GHIT Board Member, and Director at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical medicine, has been urging global leaders to act now to avoid facing the very real threat of devastating epidemic diseases. “The development of treatments and vaccines must be prioritized during both inter-epidemic and epidemic periods. Emphasis must be placed on creating a mechanism for accelerating development and testing interventions when epidemic situations arise so we are better aligned and globally prepared. With the right blend of political will, public awareness, resources and science, we can educate, prevent, treat and, eventually, eliminate many of the diseases that affect the developing world.”


Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa, GHIT Fund Chair of the Board, Adjunct Professor of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies said “The effects of infectious diseases are immense and are felt across the world. The global community has a historic opportunity to accelerate the progress that has been made to date, but as we all know, the challenges with infectious diseases means that we need to always stay one step ahead. Getting treatments out there is one of the biggest challenges we face for the future and I am proud that our Fund is committed to investing greater resources in to proactively discovering new solutions."


The Millennium Development Goals activated greater support for multi-stakeholder partnerships and created an enabling environment for anchoring these to the needs of developing countries. In the post-2015 era, there needs to be greater support for R&D that fast-tracks innovation and game-changing solutions. The GHIT Fund will work with governments, academic and research institutions in the West to bolster their efforts and increase collaboration.