GHIT FUND FUTUREGHIT Fund Replenishment Press Release

GHIT Fund Secures Commitments of Over US$200 Million
to its Replenishment for the Acceleration of Japanese
Innovation for Infectious Diseases of the Developing World

TOKYO, JAPAN (June 1, 2017)—The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund), which has been dedicated to leveraging Japanese expertise and capacity for health innovations to save lives in the world’s poorest countries, announced today that it has secured commitments of over US$200 million* to its replenishment for its next phase of work, allowing it to move the most advanced tools out of the lab, and into the hands of those who need them most.

GHIT’s funding partners, including the Government of Japan (GOJ), private companies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Wellcome Trust have committed over US$200 million in a significant vote of confidence in the institution’s work. The new commitment for GHIT’s second phase is double the initial US$100 million investment GHIT received when it was created in 2013. The GOJ will contribute roughly half of the replenishment, with other partners splitting the remaining half.

Leveraging Japan’s historic leadership in global health and innovation, along with the unique technology and knowhow of its domestic and global partners, GHIT invests in R&D projects to develop new medicines, vaccines and diagnostics to address a range of infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). It is the first public-private partnership of its kind for global health research and development (R&D), involving government, private companies, and private foundations.

“In just four years, the GHIT’s unique public-private partnership model has dramatically increased the global health community’s capacity to develop technologies that can effectively battle the infectious diseases that afflict roughly one-third of the world’s population,” said GHIT Fund CEO BT Slingsby. “This work is moving us closer to achieving universal health coverage and human security goals.”

GHIT has moved quickly to fill a gap in R&D of new tools for malaria, tuberculosis and NTDs. In just four years, GHIT has broadened its funding partnerships substantially from eight core members in 2013 to almost twice that number today.

The fund has invested approximately $100 million in 61 global product development partnerships that leverage Japanese innovation and capacities in pharmaceuticals. Eight of GHIT’s 23 novel screening programs have advanced into the next stage of development; 6 clinical trials are under way in the developing world; and 2 projects have achieved proofs-of-concept (Phase II trials).

GHIT’s portfolio is characterized by products that are not only novel, but transformative for global health. This includes the first-ever pediatric formulation of the gold-standard drug for schistosomiasis, a water-borne parasitic disease linked to numerous acute and chronic health conditions. Other innovations include malaria drugs and vaccines, a TB vaccine that prevents initial TB infection—not just the later stages of active disease—and a new treatment strategy for Chagas disease, a tropical parasitic disease that can lead to heart failure.

“Japan has shown strong leadership in accelerating scientific advances that save lives and have the potential to help millions escape the cycle of poverty,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “From investments in research and development for neglected tropical diseases, to support for the Global Fund’s progress in combatting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and now through a continued commitment to GHIT, Japan continues to play a critical role in improving the lives of the world’s poorest.”

“Fighting the world’s most neglected diseases has long been a priority for Japan,” said Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. “We believe in universal health coverage where all have access to the medicines and treatment they need. Given our scientific and technological strength, it is Japan’s responsibility to work with others to eliminate some of the world’s most intractable diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis, Chagas disease, and schistosomiasis.”

As GHIT prepares to enter the second five-year phase of its work, it plans to broaden its role in advancing R&D product development to include additional partnerships that further facilitate access to and delivery of the tools that emerge from its pipeline. To reinforce the bonds between R&D, access and delivery, and strengthen health systems, GHIT will be strengthening its collaboration with global health entities, such as Japan’s Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA), Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED), and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), as well as the Global Fund, Gavi, WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, and others.

GHIT’s prioritization of access and delivery in its investment decision-making, coupled with Japan’s priority on universal health coverage, will continue to foster partnerships committed to meeting critical unmet needs in global health. “GHIT is a really important innovation in and of itself,” said Mark Dybul, former Executive Director of the Global Fund. “It is a great example of a public-private partnership that was created to foster R&D in a way that advances the goals of achieving universal health coverage and human security, which are cornerstone policies of Japan’s health and foreign policies.”

Because these products are extraordinarily expensive and high-risk to develop and low-middle income countries are unable to pay for them, there is little financial incentive for for-profit companies to invest limited R&D resources into malaria, tuberculosis, and NTDs. Yet the full engagement of the private sector is critical to developing these tools and bringing them to market. GHIT’s model is a solution to the market failure and enables the private sector to contribute to global health financially and by bringing their pharmaceutical expertise and capabilities to the R&D table to create affordable and accessible new products.

“Over 700 million people live in absolute poverty, and 14 percent of children worldwide are not getting basic vaccines,” said Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Affordability and access of vaccines are key to filling these gaps. “GHIT’s investment in the development of needed vaccines—and to making affordability and access a priority throughout the R&D process—is critical.”

Throughout its first phase, GHIT has been instrumental in helping to speed the discovery and development of a significant number of innovative technologies in record time.
“With this replenishment of GHIT, Japan is further cementing its legacy as a leader in global health innovation,” said Professor Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chair of the GHIT Fund Board of Directors. “The success of GHIT is catalyzing Japan’s engagement with other new initiatives and transforming global health partnerships. This is good for Japan and for the world.”

* All amounts listed at the exchange rate of USD1 = JPY100.

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