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Improving the vector control innovation process

June 7, 2012 - 20:41 -- Bart G.J. Knols

Insecticide resistance and the limits of our current vector control tools threaten our global progress against vector-borne diseases. Innovative vector control tools are therefore urgently needed, but some technical, financial and programmatic barriers may hinder innovation. In October 2011, a gathering of stakeholders including individuals from IVCC, WHO, donor institutions, industry, and other partners issued a joint call for a mapping of the current process to introduce new vector control tools for public health and the need to identify the challenges faced today in this process.

As part of a broader consultation process of more than 70 individual stakeholders from ~40 institutions, a workshop was convened in March on the subject of fostering innovation in vector control. This workshop, attended by 29 participants, was a critical interim step to gather a small group of the main constituencies involved in vector control innovation, with the view to discussing the initial findings and collecting feedback on the process of mapping innovation.
 
The workshop was a constructive, forward-looking endeavour with the goal of beginning a dialogue on how partners throughout the community can collaborate to accelerate the pace at which new vector control tools can be developed and ultimately introduced in endemic countries.
 
Eight “key themes” or major areas for improvement in the vector control innovation process were identified during the interviews and discussed in this workshop:
 
• Establishing a predictable and viable market
• Protecting investments while allowing competition
• Recognizing innovation
• Facilitating breakthrough innovation
• Reducing costs and improving efficiencies for time-to-market • Ensuring high quality products
• Developing products that respond to the needs of end-users • Building strong collaboration between stakeholder groups
 
By the end of the workshop, it was clear that all stakeholders are working towards the same shared goal – developing innovative, safe and effective vector control tools and introducing them as quickly as practicable in endemic countries to lower disease burden and save lives. Participants uniformly recognized that collaboration was vital to overcoming the challenges identified; no single stakeholder group has the power to overcome these challenges on their own. The workshop closed with a discussion on an ambitious but achievable target for the community: to cut the time from proof of concept to the introduction of a new product in endemic countries by 30%, while maintaining the highest standards in terms of safety, efficacy and acceptability.
 
Though this workshop was the right venue for the initial incubation of ideas, it was recognized that the discussion must be expanded to include a larger number of individuals and institutions. Participants were encouraged to return to their constituencies and share the initial ideas discussed. All partners should take action and volunteer, in coordination with WHO, IVCC and/or others, to continue the dialogue and trigger initiatives to accelerate innovation in vector control.

(The above text was taken from the Executive summary of the attached document)