In a resource-constrained world, partnerships and innovation are essential to scaling up creative solutions in the global fight against deadly diseases. In the past decade, we have seen the value that strong global health partnerships can create. Under the Measles & Rubella Initiative, more than 1 billion children have received a measles vaccination. Globally, routine immunization has increased from 72 percent to 85 percent, and measles deaths decreased by 74 percent between 2000 and 2010. Since 2010, Every Woman Every Child has secured commitments from more than 250 organizations to support the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, and more than US$10 billion has been disbursed in the effort to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015. Succinctly put: effective partnerships work.
The UN Foundation formed Pledge Guarantee for Health with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition, and Dalberg Global Development Advisors. The last two years have served as a period of incubation for PGH, under the guidance of the UN Foundation. In that time, the PGH concept has been proven: $17 million in completed transactions through PGH have expedited disbursement of foreign assistance and made global health supplies more affordable for developing countries.
PGH provides a loan guarantee for donor funding at the time a commitment is made and works with commercial banks to provide a letter of credit backed by the loan guarantee. That financial backing enables the Ministry of Health or civil society organization to work with suppliers immediately, rather than waiting for commitments to be processed, resulting in faster distribution of goods and sometimes more favorable pricing.
At the GBCHealth Conference in New York City, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Swedish International Agency for Development Cooperation (SIDA), Vestergaard Frandsen, Merck & Co. and The Global Fund announced a new partnership through PGH to boost the value of critical donor aid and accelerate progress toward the MDGs by leveraging the power and promise of PGH.
Through this partnership, the new guarantee backed by USAID and Swedish SIDA will enable PGH to secure a 5-year, $100 million credit line to scale up its operations of facilitating bridge financing for developing country governments and civil society partners and help speed up delivery of essential health commodities.
In the two years before this announcement, while PGH was incubated at the UN Foundation, the concept proved to be valuable and impactful. PGH loan guarantees have accelerated procurement of health commodities, speeding the time for distribution of life-saving goods. Working with the Government of Zambia, the World Bank, UNICEF and Stanbic Bank Zambia, with support from UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Malaria, the PGH loan guarantee enabled 1.6 million malaria-preventing bed nets to be distributed before the rainy season, rather than after. Providing bed nets before the high-risk rainy season likely averted tens of thousands of malaria cases, savings the lives of thousands of Zambian children.
PGH’s successes also include improving maternal health by leveraging innovative finance to accelerate delivery of reproductive health supplies in Ethiopia and the Philippines. With the help of PGH, both countries were able to access higher quality and more effective methods of contraception faster and at no additional cost. Additionally, the Philippines Department of Health, with the guidance of UNFPA, was able to apply PGH’s approach of using commercial banks to bridge finance procurement of essential commodities that helped women avoid over 700,000 unwanted pregnancies and save nearly 1,000 mothers’ lives.
Pledge Guarantee for Health’s unique alliance of businesses, non-profits, governments and donors exemplifies the innovative partnerships that are crucial to meeting 21st century development goals. With new partners providing the backing to take PGH to scale, this cross-sector collaboration will help boost the value of donor aid and accelerate progress toward the MDGs.