Modern Medicine NVinacco/Flickr

Local Innovation for Local Problems

When it comes to finding solutions to problems like the proliferation of fake or low-quality drugs, policymakers in the developing world are more likely to look abroad than at home. This is a big mistake, as local innovation is likely to be central to any successful effort to address the problem – and many others as well.

BOSTON – As we learn more about the threat from substandard and counterfeit medicines, it is becoming clear that it is a far greater problem than previously thought. It is also a scourge that is most acutely felt in developing countries, where fake and low-quality pharmaceuticals kill more than 500,000 people a year and affect millions more by contributing to the emergence of diseases that are resistant to existing treatments.

Compounding the problem is the approach taken by policymakers in the developing world, who are far more likely to look for solutions abroad than at home. This shortsightedness is a grave mistake that impedes innovation and progress. When it comes to tackling high-impact health challenges like the proliferation of fake or inferior drugs, local solutions and local innovations are not only likely to be central to any successful effort; they have the potential to provide benefits that go far beyond the scope of the original problem.

Throughout the developing world, but most evidently in Africa, two groups are interested in finding tools to combat the menace of bad drugs. One group, comprising students, entrepreneurs, and researchers, seeks solutions that are local, original, and tailored to the needs of their societies. Its members are quick to share ideas and eager to collaborate. While this group has produced some innovative solutions – for example, the Ghanaian entrepreneur Bright Simmons is using mobile technology to address the counterfeit-drug problem – many more passionate local inventors and entrepreneurs must get involved.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/pZTf8xX;
  1. Patrick Kovarik/Getty Images

    The Summit of Climate Hopes

    Presidents, prime ministers, and policymakers gather in Paris today for the One Planet Summit. But with no senior US representative attending, is the 2015 Paris climate agreement still viable?

  2. Trump greets his supporters The Washington Post/Getty Images

    Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America

    • In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently sold out the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocrats. 

    • Sooner or later, Trump's core supporters will wake up to this fact, so it is worth asking how far he might go to keep them on his side.
  3. Agents are bidding on at the auction of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

    The Man Who Didn’t Save the World

    A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," for which he spent $450.3 million. Had he given the money to the poor, as the subject of the painting instructed another rich man, he could have restored eyesight to nine million people, or enabled 13 million families to grow 50% more food.

  4.  An inside view of the 'AknRobotics' Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Two Myths About Automation

    While many people believe that technological progress and job destruction are accelerating dramatically, there is no evidence of either trend. In reality, total factor productivity, the best summary measure of the pace of technical change, has been stagnating since 2005 in the US and across the advanced-country world.

  5. A student shows a combo pictures of three dictators, Austrian born Hitler, Castro and Stalin with Viktor Orban Attila Kisbenedek/Getty Images

    The Hungarian Government’s Failed Campaign of Lies

    The Hungarian government has released the results of its "national consultation" on what it calls the "Soros Plan" to flood the country with Muslim migrants and refugees. But no such plan exists, only a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to help a corrupt administration deflect attention from its failure to fulfill Hungarians’ aspirations.

  6. Project Syndicate

    DEBATE: Should the Eurozone Impose Fiscal Union?

    French President Emmanuel Macron wants European leaders to appoint a eurozone finance minister as a way to ensure the single currency's long-term viability. But would it work, and, more fundamentally, is it necessary?

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now