PATH: Winner's Statement
President: Christopher Elias
Previous winner: 2004, 2005
Schwab Outstanding Social Entrepreneur
What it does: PATH is a health-technology pioneer in the developing world. It typically joins with private-sector partners to hatch new technologies, such as prefilled, single-use syringes that allow lay people to deliver vaccinations while eliminating the risks of needle reuse, and low-cost "clean delivery kits" that reduce the number of newborn deaths from infection.
Results: PATH measures its impact locally. So in the Andhra Pradesh state of India, one program has helped lift the number of children immunized from 58% of the population to 72% in less than five years.
Aspiration and growth: B
What if products and strategies meant to improve health in the developing world were designed expressly for the people who need them? The free-market concept of user-driven design is infrequently applied to nonprofit causes, but it's been the foundation of PATH's approach to global health for nearly 30 years.
Instead of tossing wealthy-world answers at problems unique to poor countries, PATH is out to find and create effective, sustainable solutions that work best where they're needed most. These include health "technologies" that are just right for use in remote villages, immunization programs built side by side with the governments that administer them, and cultural projects that spark dialogue and social changes in communities at risk from HIV.
A holistic approach
Advancing technologies, strengthening systems, and encouraging healthy behaviors--PATH works at every problem from two or three angles. For example, developing countries need to safely immunize children who live days from the nearest health clinic. They need a technology that works and a system that can implement it.
In response, PATH developed the UnijectTM device, which is little more than a needle attached to a tiny plastic bubble and is so simple that village health workers with minimal training can use it. The needle has a one-way valve that prevents reuse and thus transmission of infection like HIV. PATH worked with the Government of Indonesia to build a sustainable immunization program and to integrate the new technology into it. Now village midwives are using Uniject to get vaccines to remote villages, and children in some of the world's farthest corners have access to the best protection modern science offers.
Private-sector partnerships for public good
In keeping with the organization's innovative business model, PATH licensed the rights to Uniject away--to a syringe manufacturer. In return, PATH secured a commitment from the manufacturer to produce large quantities of the device and make it available to public-sector purchasers, such as UNICEF, at affordable prices. Six different medications are now available in Uniject, and millions of the device are being distributed and used around the world to prevent diseases and save lives.
PATH is also working with an array of funders and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies to support the development of vaccines for some of the world's most devastating but neglected diseases, such as malaria and meningitis. Many of the products PATH supports had been shelved; market forces alone weren't enough to spur research and development. PATH's participation means that promising solutions get a second chance--and so do communities that are caught up in a cycle of poverty and disease.
Solutions at hand
With advances in medical and social sciences, now more than ever before, the solutions to global health problems are at hand. PATH takes full advantage of resources available in both the public and private sectors to make sure today's solutions benefit people the world over--no matter where they live.
Is there a role for individuals? Yes! Funding from individual donors becomes innovation capital for PATH to create new prototypes and prove the viability of pilot programs. Funding from governments, foundations, and corporations helps scale up successful projects and concepts.
For more information and to read about PATH's smart, creative projects, visit the PATH Web site: www.path.org.
The above Winner's Statement was provided by the profiled organization.