This year’s World Health Day celebrates 75 years of the World Health Organization and the world’s actions in tackling the most pressing global health challenges. This anniversary provides us, at Access Accelerated, with a golden opportunity to reflect on the lessons we have gained to date, and to celebrate the people and events that have made the global health community who we are today. The milestone also gives a chance for Access Accelerated to look ahead, reinvigorated and with a renewed sense of purpose.
The launch of Access Accelerated in 2017 was a watershed moment. With Access Accelerated, the biopharmaceutical industry stood together for the first time and made a bold commitment to help achieve the ambitious NCD agenda laid out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Together with our partners and country stakeholders, we have been charting a new and ambitious course to strengthen access to NCD care in low- and middle-income countries around the world. Our experience over the last six years has taught us challenging but necessary lessons, and has underscored the urgent need to build resilient health systems, strive toward Universal Health Coverage and above all bring humanity and humility to healthcare.
We have made connections
We have dug deeply to explore the issues that matter most to us while continuing to take action that would help us live up to our name. Accelerating access means expanding our understanding of our impact and that of our partners. How can we better measure our work and its effects, then leverage that knowledge to strengthen partnerships, drive collective action and ultimately improve future global health initiatives?
In many ways, our work is defined by the concept of “connective tissue”. This connective tissue represents the harder-to-measure elements and interactions needed to forge partnerships that embody synergy, trust and shared purpose. Some believe the challenges ahead in the fight against noncommunicable diseases are simply too difficult, even impossible, to overcome. Identifying and cultivating strong connective tissue is needed to help us create innovative partnerships that will help catalyze powerful change.
That’s the kind of intentional partnership we are striving for at Access Accelerated—one that places cooperation ahead of competition. As Dr Juan Pablo Uribe, the World Bank’s Global Director for Health, Nutrition & Population and the Global Financing Facility cautioned at the event we hosted during the UN General Assembly last year:
“You can have the best technical data indicators and frameworks, but if you don’t have trust, if you don’t have a shared purpose, you’re not generous and humble, you will not have a successful collaboration.”
Those are words we are trying to live by.
We found ways to share knowledge
Investing time and resources into understanding what makes partnerships impactful and sustainable means little if we don’t share what we learn. That’s why a learning agenda is key to our work. Identifying, integrating and sharing these hard-won lessons have come in many forms over these past six years, aimed at creating understanding, connection and engagement.
Last year, we saw the publication of the first Measurement Evaluation Framework Report, designed to measure and explain our collective impact during the previous year. Last month, in partnership with Chatham House and Boston University, we brought experts and leaders together for a valuable dialogue on shaping and strengthening the measurement and evaluation of global multi-sectorial collaborations.
We also capitalized on key opportunities to come together in conjunction with occasions like the UN General Assembly in New York and Universal Health Coverage Day in Tokyo. These events, which brought together some 200 members of the global health community, were vital in pushing our thinking to new dimensions, challenging our assumptions and learning from each other.
We are continually learning
Throughout the years, we have also shared our experience by exploring issues and lessons that offer a deeper dive into our areas of work. We shone a spotlight on a joint project with the World Bank in Latin America and the Caribbean which is supporting people living with mental illness through capacity strengthening at the primary care level. We also explored ways that countries can design health systems to support healthier, longer lives as we face an aging population worldwide, with a focus on Europe and Central Asia. Most recently, we examined how the World Bank is supporting countries like Nigeria and Kazakhstan to introduce “SSB taxes” to tackle the rising burden of NCDs. These stories represent just a few of more than 50 projects that Access Accelerated is supporting through our partnerships.
We are keeping our eyes on the future
It goes without saying that achieving collective impact—uniting and marshaling different groups so that our efforts can point in the same direction and lead to meaningful results—is not an easy thing to do. Indeed, we face an enormous challenge ahead of us, and this recognition further strengthens our conviction of the need for an at scale, system-level response.
As we look ahead to the next phase of Access Accelerated, we are filled with hope for the future. That optimism is rooted in the progress, the conversations, the spirit of collaboration and the curiosity that we saw throughout all our activities and interactions these past six years. The momentum we gained together cannot be denied, and there will be more opportunities to improve access, to unite, educate and innovate in the coming years ahead. That’s why we know that, as an initiative, an industry and a society, we’re ready to take the next steps into the future.