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Private Sector Global Health Investments Should Focus On Health Systems Building, Beware Of Vertical Approaches

The Wire: The Gates Foundation and the Anatomy of Philanthrocapitalism
Urvashi Aneja, associate professor in international relations at the Jindal School of International Affairs

“…While [the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s (BMGF)] philanthrocapitalism undoubtedly injects the much-needed financial resources into global development programs, it is important to pay attention to the kind of development paradigm that is promoted as a result and the broader implications of such philanthrocapitalism. BMGF’s philanthrocapitalism, like much of private sector investments for development, tend to promote vertical, issue-based solutions that are often rooted in new technologies and innovation. … However, this vertical approach does not contribute to building urgently needed health systems in the developing world. … The broader point is not to assign blame to a particular actor such as BMGF, but to consider the contradictions and limitations of the reliance of private finance, and global philanthropy in particular, for development solutions. It is also to highlight the need for close and regular scrutiny of their power and practice. Finally, it is to argue that without adequate investments and safeguards by states, and greater democratic debate about the nature of private aid monies and investments, organizations such as BMGF can provide at best, partial solutions and at worst, entrench the very systems whose symptoms they seek to address” (3/23).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.