Capitalism as an economic theory based on free market enterprise has evolved over a period of time culminating in many derivatives and adaptations to address existing situations along the annals of history ands patterns of socio-economic development.
Early thinkers such as Marx and Weber propounded the doctrine of capitalism as a panacea to bridge the divide between the proletariat and bourgeois
With passage of time , this approach seemingly came to be viewed as starkly polarized that catered to the interests of ‘the ‘Big Few’ who could monopolize and play with market forces to indulge selective interests.
The resultant chasm between the developed and developing world has led to Capitalism being a much berated terminology and philosophy that exacerbates the inequitable distribution of wealth and access to opportunities.
In what could be viewed as an attempt to remedy the bias, we have none other than Bill Gates, who has offered his version of a neo capitalist theory in the light of the widening social divide, often viewed as a fall out from the operation of capitalist market dynamics.
In his address at the Harvard commencement ceremony, he sought to further and propound the concept of ‘Creative Capitalism-an offshoot of capitalism that possibly
offers feasible prescriptives for current public health concerns
Talking about the world’s sharpest inequities, Gates convinced his audience that the answer to them lies in making markets work better for the poor. In his words, creative capitalism is about “stretching the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or at least make a living, serving people who are suffering from the worst inequities.”
A shining example of creative capitalism in public health is the concept of an ‘Advance Market Commitment(AMC),’ an advance bulk order for drugs and vaccines that are today nonexistent. Such a financial commitment from philanthropies and governments allows pharmaceutical companies to hedge the economic risk in making heavy R&D investments for risky third-world markets. In effect, the foundations commit to subsidize long-term future purchases of a yet-to-be-developed vaccine that could address some of the most pressing public health needs of these countries, subject to certain conditions.
It’s hard to imagine the life-saving potential of a simple market-based risk-hedging tool like the AMC. PneumoADIP, the first AMC pilot currently underway, is a $30 million effort to accelerate the development of new life-saving pneumococcal (anti-pneumonia) vaccines for the world’s poorest children. It is estimated that this pilot AMC will prevent up to 5.4 million childhood deaths by 2030, almost all of which would have occurred in the developing world.
Questions pertaining to affordable health care access and delivery have significantly dominated dialogues on IP and Public Health in recent times.. Also as an issue central to the North South debate on public health inequities, has led critics to denounce the IPR regime and more specifically patents as being skewed favoring the IP superpowers. Tools such as Compulsory Licensing are viewed with skepticism.Ruminating on other plausible alternatives, yields no ‘happy- all’ situation (is’nt that a myth anyways!…)
In an environment tinged with apprehensions, the AMC could act as an effective enabling lever to address some critical Public health issues and ensuing IPRs’ dilemmas-both regulatory and ethical in nature.
Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation together with Path (an NGO that has some launched some commendable initiatives in bringing to
Bias’ impede progress-a cognitive detox of old thinking patterns of capitalism and a shift towards new paradigms of thought situated on progressive lines could throw open new paths and vistas along the way. If worked in a complementary manner, capitalism and socialist imperatives could make fairly compatible bedfellows co-existing in a creative new manner of living and being…devoid of misplaced insecurities.