Panel 4: Decreasing Complexity to Encouraging Private Sector Investment in Health


Continued improvements in health require the diversification of resources as well as sustainable, scalable, and blended financial models that support those at the bottom of the pyramid. There is a growing need for better cross-sectoral coordination, and increased engagement of the private sector to leverage their skills, expertise, and resources in support of improved health outcomes. Panelists discussed the characteristics of successfully implemented cross-sectoral partnerships, as well as ways in which the private sector can invest in global health while maintaining a return on their investment.


  • The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie, Mégantic-L’Érable (Quebec), Canada
  • Gary Cohen, Executive Vice President, Becton Dickinson
  • Terri Bresenham, President & CEO, Sustainable Healthcare Solutions, GE Healthcare


The global health community has adopted a more integrative perspective in its work with the private sector, multilateral organizations and governments, the focus is now to continue this work and engage partners across sectors to take innovations to scale. The SDGs bring attention to a gap in funding for critical health, education, food security and climate adaptation issues across the world [Paradis]. Power of blended finance is being harnessed to increase investment in emerging markets health issues such as maternal newborn and child health (MNCH). Canada supports the Global Financing Facility as a model for sustainable financing and sees it as an opportunity for private sector to co-invest in the health of populations in needs. Canada is also working with the Word Economic Forum (WEF) and other partners on the redesigning of development finance initiative effectively identify and promote innovative solutions to finance the world’s development needs. One such collaboration is in the development of Convergence, the first platform available for sharing knowledge and forging blended finance partnerships [Paradis]. In addition to holding all partners involved to the same degree of transparency and accountability, governments, private sector and civil society need to speak the same language to decrease complexity in global health investment. It is only in the combination of skills and core competencies of various sectors that global challengeds can be solved, therefore in addition in to blended finance, we need blended responsibility [Cohen]. While agreeing with this unified approach, Terri Bresenham of GE Healthcare stressed the need to co-create solutions to these challenges with the people affected and those expected to sustain those initiatives in the communities. This inclusion will keep us from replicating western models in developing countries, and instead build models that are tailored to their economy and are culturally sensitive [Bresenham].

BD has demonstrated how impactful and profitable partnerships can be by working with WHO and Grand Challenges Canada to bring the Odon device to scale. This device was created by an Argentinian mechanic and has revolutionized maternal newborn and child health by addressing obstructed and prolonged second stage labor, the cause of up to 25 percent of maternal and newborn mortality [Cohen]. In partnership with Canada and Global Health Investment Fund, BD is launching two new diagnostic tests for preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, two leading causes of maternal mortality. Initial innovation is only a part of the battle, the heavy lifting is getting products to scale, and large companies can tap on existing competencies for that. GE has been working with domestic and multinational partners and agencies such as WHO and IFC to raise awareness of affordable interventions, promote localization of engineering, mechanism and ownership of interventions, innovate the business model to emphasize a win-win approach, and invest in skills development and education. Through its partnership with the Kenyan government, GE not only brought state of the art diagnostics to 98 hospitals across the country, but was also critical in building capacity and training leadership and management to strengthen Kenya’s healthcare system. GE training of workers, and introduction of compact ultrasound 3D imaging technologies in hard to reach areas proved how impactful it is to not only design tools for the intended environment but to also involve the citizens in those areas [Bresenham].

Next Steps

The SDGs have identified the needs, it’s now time to find ways to finance them. Canada intends to establish a development finance initiative to provide financing to companies operating in low and middle income countries with activities complimenting Canada’s international assistance priorities. In order to encourage private sector investment in health, new approaches need to be data driven, which enables them to achieve tangible results. Transparency and accountability need to be maintained for all partners to address risks and uncertainties plaguing investments in emerging markets. There is a need for the new business model in global health to include both blended finance and responsibility, but also have a micro economic reward for all involved. We need to continue to support platforms that allow actors to know what is happening in the global health community and avoid duplication of efforts.