Global Health Innovation

Authored by PATH

The Need

In the past two decades, strategic investments and the scale- up of new and proven health interventions have contributed to drastic reductions in death rates globally. The World Health Organization reports that between 2000 and 2015, malaria deaths decreased 60 percent, AIDS-related deaths dropped by 28 percent and since 1990, maternal and child deaths have declined by almost half. These successes enabled the United States and its partners to agree on a set of global goals to dramatically drive down—and in some cases, eliminate—preventable deaths over the next generation. But to achieve these goals, we must face the toughest challenge yet—meeting the needs of the hardest- to-reach populations. The Lancet Commission’s Global Health 2035 report showed that tackling the world’s worst pockets of poverty, addressing shifting and emerging health priorities, and overcoming weaknesses in health systems cannot be accomplished without new technologies and groundbreaking approaches to delivering health care.

US Government's Role

Innovation has always been at the heart of the US government’s approach to global health. Many US agencies are involved in global health research and development (R&D), each with an important role in the complex R&D pipeline. For example, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plays a major role in developing, testing, and introducing game-changing global health innovations; the National Institutes of Health formulates early-stage research contributing to lifesaving diagnostics, prevention, and treatments; and the US Agency for International Development identifies where innovations are needed to meet larger global health goals, creating programs designed to spur their development. The United States is the world’s leading investor in the development of cost-effective and lifesaving technologies. Sustained leadership and prioritization of innovation is needed to reach US global health commitments.


In order to build on the tremendous progress to date, respond to emerging trends, and fill current gaps, Congress and the administration should:

  • Increase investment in global health R&D.

  • Policymakers must ensure future federal budgets prioritize global health research and innovation across agencies, departments, and programs.

  • Align strategies across agencies to ensure development and delivery of game-changing innovations. Despite the involvement of multiple agencies across the US government, gaps remain in the effective development and deployment of global health tools and interventions. Much of the work is siloed within and between agencies, and there is a lack of government-wide policy coherence and priority-setting.

  • Unlock the potential of local innovators to meet global health needs through the development of high-value, affordable technologies. Health innovation is coming from new and unexpected places and being advanced by a variety of new players. Local innovators are designing solutions to meet the needs of their populations that could also provide lower-cost alternatives for human health around the globe. The United States should play a catalytic role in growing the capacity of these new innovators to enable this transformation in the global innovation landscape.

  • Optimize investment and partnership mechanisms to bring new sectors and funding to the table. Many US government successes have come as a result of the right partnerships among the government, social sector, and private sector. Reaching global health goals will require the formation of effective partnerships and smart investments to leverage resources from across the public and private sectors.

For more information please contact Jenny Blair (


Download Member Insight

Download FABB 2016

Foreign Assistance Briefing Book:   2016  |  2013  |  2011  |  2008