U. S. Needs to Join Unitaid!
WHO Partner fighting diseases worldwide more than a decade now
by Wendy J. Meyeroff
The Executive Board of this relatively unknown--but innovative and worldwide--disease fighter, just approved up to $30 million USD for work against COVID-19. It ultimately seeks to help the goal of the World Health Organization (WHO): universal health coverage. That is not just a matter of insurance. It's making sure all human beings have access to basics--and advances--in their care.
If you don't know Unitaid (and how many of us do?) this non-profit was established in 2006. It's overall goal is three-fold:
Find the innovators in amazing medical help products, and get them to those who need this help the most;
Overcome existing barriers to receiving health care and,
Realize "the full impact of its interventions and scale up."
France, Brazil, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Japan were among the countries teaming up in this organization's establishment. The only U.S. reach-out at that time was the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. While other USA action-makers, such as the Clinton Health Access Initiative have since been involved, the USA as a whole is not.
Among the paths the dollars will take:
Funding a clinical trial as to how COVID-19 specifically will affect HIV/AIDS patients, then discovering a drug that helps them. (HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria and Hep-C, were this group's major foci before this pandemic.)
Harnessing the medical diagnostic labs they have in 20 countries to advance overall testing for this virus.
Generating better diagnostic tools--like measuring oxygen levels in patients' bloods--so as to more easily identify those in most danger.
Among the projects for which they've previously opened proposals (note: these are all closed):
Preventing deaths from cervical cancer
Finding better tools to ID and thus fight childhood fevers. They note that worldwide 5.6 million children (ages 1 to 59 month) die from fever-related conditions, such as pneumonia and malaria.
Fighting current TB and related drug-resistant strains.
Here are a couple of direct quotes from the group's official press release on this donation:
From Unitaid Executive Board Chair Marisol Touraine: “During these extraordinary times, the global health community must stand together to find solutions and place special attention on vulnerable populations, especially those in countries with weaker health systems which are likely to bear the brunt of this pandemic."
From WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “We need the help of all our partners to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. I welcome the decision by Unitaid to bring its expertise in innovation and access to this fight.”
If you are part of any company, organization or government environ that would like to support this innovator in global healthcare, check them out.
Wendy Meyeroff has been the Plain Language Leader in health & tech communications for over 20 years. She's collaborated with everyone from individual consultants to the U.S. government and Fortune 500 companies to develop factual-but-fascinating B2B and B2C print and online materials. NIH, Dr. Oz, Merck, the American Heart Association and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center are on her professional storytelling list.
Illustration: Gordon Johnson on Pixabay.