Andrew Witty, GlaxoSmithKline CEO, addresses the GAVI Alliance 4th Partners' Forum in Hanoi, Vietnam

Andrew Witty Vietnam Partners' Forum 2009

Andrew Witty, GlaxoSmithKline CEO, pictured delivering his speech on the AMC to the 4th Partners' Forum in Hanoi, Vietnam. GAVI/2009/Julian Wainwright.

Hanoi, 24 November 2009 - There is no doubt in my mind that the GAVI Alliance has absolutely captured the imagination of the pharmaceutical industry.

It has acted as a catalyst for change in the way that key players deal with the opportunities and challenges that exist in the developing world, and I don’t think there’s anybody in the industry who is not conscious of these issues now.

Break down old barriers

In the past, the pharmaceutical industry, and society generally, have often been rigid, trying to apply the same business models to many different issues.

I believe that this is changing, and that innovative thinking is starting to break down old barriers.

For nearly a decade, GAVI has worked very diligently to create alternative models and facilities that will help us deliver more vaccines faster to the developing world. And I think the Advance Market Commitment (AMC) is the best possible example of that.

The Advance Market Commitment (AMC) is a very clever approach because it achieves the secret to partnership, which is balance.

Andrew Witty, GlaxoSmithKline CEO

The AMC provides a crucial platform for strengthening vaccine delivery because it binds all parties – donors, developing country governments, GAVI and industry – together in a long-term partnership.

It’s no longer a matter of “I feel like making a contribution this year, maybe I’ll be here next year, maybe I won’t”. That changes the dynamic between the parties.

Secret to partnership

For me, the AMC is a very clever approach because it achieves the secret to partnership, which is balance.

I am absolutely convinced that the AMC is the right approach to get life-saving vaccines to the developing world quickly and at an affordable price.

We won’t know for sure until it’s all implemented and successful. But if it is, I think it will fundamentally change the potential, not just of pneumococcal vaccine and other vaccines we have today, but also that of new vaccines against diseases like dengue and malaria.

That would make the four million lives that GAVI has saved so far really look like the prologue for a phenomenal legacy.

Strategic shift in industry thinking

The AMC, in effect, has produced a strategic shift in the thinking of industry that changes everything. The potential it offers for further breakthroughs imposes an obligation on all of us to try to make it work.

But it is also critically important that we do not allow the financial setbacks of the past two years to derail this or other GAVI initiatives. However severe the impact of the economic downturn, it is important for GAVI not to lose sight of its strategy.

It would be better to scale back the ambition than to allow the lasting gains that GAVI promises for global health to be jeopardised by a passing economic cycle.

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