The biggest challenge of international development and ending extreme poverty is funding. Achieving the MDGs isn't just about will power, it's about financial investment; healthcare, schools, technology, etc. all cost money.
What if our everyday transactions could contribute to poverty alleviation? To nourishing a hungry child or purchasing a life-saving medication? And what if this action was effortless to the global consumer?
Two reports on global inequality made headlines recently, putting a spotlight on an oft-neglected topic. As the world's movers and shakers flock to Davos for the World Economic Forum, these reports describe two different situations, in essence "the best of times" and the "worst of times."
My vision is for a World AIDS Day in the near future where we can say with pride that we have achieved universal access to treatment. This goal is within reach, but only by supporting important initiatives to make medicines available, appropriate, and affordable will we fully be able to grasp it.
If UNITAID proved how the power of numbers could be used to raise more money to combat extreme poverty, then we need to take the next step. Why can't we take microscopic contributions from the activities that most profit from globalization?
UNITAID is a small but scrappy group based within the World Health Organization that is applying 21st century solutions to age-old problems using a 1-2 punch of innovative financing and futuristic technology.
Last year, UNITAID released a study that demonstrates exactly what a country would need to do to implement an FTT. The study found that the introduction of such a tax on a national basis should have no significant negative impact on national financial markets.
We need to diversify how we fund the global fight against diseases like malaria. The term for this is "innovative financing for development." The world's laboratory for innovative financing is located in Geneva, in a small outpost of the UN family called UNITAID.
Drug companies who participate in the patent pool hand over their patents to UNITAID, which makes those patents available to generic drug manufacturers. Part of the deal is that the generic drugs can only be sold in lower-income countries.
It's quite ironic that on one hand there has never been such strong mobilization and acknowledgement of global health needs, and still, the funding and policies do not proportionately match the momentum or awareness.