Why does a Dubai-based investment group care so much about vector borne diseases?

Mark Stoleson
Business Fights Poverty

Business Fights PovertyThis year, World Health Day is shining a light on the devastating impact of vector-borne diseases. These diseases cause more than one million deaths each year and leave hundreds of millions more debilitated, disfigured, blind or just too sick to work or go to school due to their long-term effects.

For us at Legatum, our initial conversation about these diseases as a potential investment opportunity began over a cappuccino at the café in our Dubai office one afternoon in 2006 while reading an article by Andrew Jack in the Financial Times. This article highlighted how neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) affect over one billion of the poorest and most marginalized people on the planet. We learned that pharmaceutical companies had donated the medicines needed to control and eliminate these diseases, but that these drug donations weren’t being fully utilized because countries didn’t have the resources needed to deliver the medicines to those in need.

The investment proposition became immediately clear to us. For every 50 cents invested, we could leverage $10 in donated medicines, ensure that a person at risk of these diseases is treated for an entire year, and strengthen local health systems so that countries could better treat these diseases on their own. It was one of the best buys in global health we had seen and a model that could be scaled. We were inspired by the realization that diseases such as lymphatic filariais, schistosomiasis and river blindness could come to an end in our lifetime.

Read the full post on Business Fights Poverty's Blog.