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How Innovators Are Solving Global Health Challenges

How Innovators Are Solving Global Health Challenges

April 2019

nnovate4Health Latin America

By Jaci Arthur McDole, Stephen Ezell, Mark Schultz, and Philip Stevens


The Innovate4Health project tells the exciting story of people who are solving the world’s biggest health challenges through innovation. It’s often people who are the closest to a problem who have the best insights on how to solve it, so Innovate4Health focuses on local inventors meeting local challenges. This volume of the Innovate4Health project features seven original case studies showcasing Latin American life-sciences innovators.

Too often, the inventiveness of Latin American countries is overlooked. People everywhere are creative and inventive, and Latin America is no exception to this rule. This volume, Innovate4Health: Latin America, profiles several exciting innovations coming out of the region today. New software is giving the disabled a voice. Antivenom medication and the first lung cancer vaccine are saving lives. A neonatal artificial bubble and an easy-to-use birth assistant tool provide mothers and newborns better odds of survival. An innovative technique is speeding recovery with less pain for burn victims.

Unfortunately, innovators in Latin America often face significant challenges. A 2013 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report found that the private sector in Latin American countries invests far less in R&D than in other regions. Businesses and inventors are less likely to invest in R&D if they feel their opportunity to secure a return on investment is not secure. Intellectual property (IP) rights are essential to providing this assurance, but they are often less effectively protected in Latin American countries than elsewhere.

There are many places to work, to conduct R&D, to set up businesses, and to sell products, so Latin American countries need to get their innovation-incenting policies right. Innovation is particularly risky business, so innovators watch such signals carefully.

Innovate4Health: Latin America helps develop a picture of what’s at stake. Despite challenging business and legal environments, innovators are bringing important new products and services to market to meet global health challenges. Patients need more such innovations. Latin American economies need more innovative businesses. Innovate4Health: Latin America serves as an example of the vast potential of the region by profiling the creativity and innovation of local innovators meeting life-sciences challenges.