Sunday, February 11, 2007

What was I just saying...

It was only two days ago that I commented that there were no market incentives to develop vaccines for diseases like malaria that affect poor countries but not rich countries. The World Bank has just reported that the Group of Seven (G7) rich countries, led by Italy, has signed an agreement to provide $1.5 billion to develop vaccines for poor countries.

HM Queen Rania of Jordan

The new Advanced Market Commitments for Vaccines program, under the auspices of the G7, is ‘aimed at saving millions of lives in the poorest countries and supporting their economic growth with new methods,’ the Italian economy ministry said. The mechanism involves donor nations making a prior commitment to buy vaccines which are under development at a preferential price once they are launched, thereby creating a demand-led market for new vaccines needed by poor countries.

Italy, Britain, Canada and Norway announced funding commitments at a ceremony attended by Italian Economy Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, Britain's Gordon Brown, Canada's Jim Flaherty and World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz. Jordan's Queen Rania presided over the launch and the G7 officials explained the program in person to Pope Benedict at the Vatican before traveling to Essen in Germany for the G7 meeting.

I’m rather intrigued by the cast at this carefully staged event – queens, popes, presidents, chiefs and ministers. It’s almost medieval. Technology might change but politics doesn’t. “Be nice to people who have power” is the golden rule for getting anything done.

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