With impetus from the Millennium Development Goals, funding to address global health challenges has increased from both international donors and developing countries themselves. Progress is being made against malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and in delivering vaccines.
Yet the World Health Organization estimates that nearly 15 million people still die each year from infectious diseases and nutritional deficiencies. And nearly seven million children die before the age of five, most commonly from pneumonia, diarrhea, birth complications and malaria.
The potential impact of this work is both significant and difficult to calculate, as no investment vehicle on the scale of GHIF currently exists in healthcare.
Monica Arora, Partner,
Head of Investment Funds Group
The Global Health Investment Fund I, LLC (GHIF), an innovative new US$108 million investment fund, provides financing to commercialize new and improved tools to take on these health challenges. Historically, for-profit companies have not had sufficient economic incentive to generate or invest in these important medicines and medical products. GHIF has identified a pipeline of promising potential investments, including drugs and vaccines against a spectrum of preventable diseases, as well as products for improving nutrition and family planning. The investment required to complete final testing and bring these products to market remains substantial, so the Fund has been structured to provide that investment in the short term and generate returns for investors in the medium to long term.
The investment premise was to attract investors looking to combine social impact and financial return. With help from White & Case in a two-year project that tapped our extensive experience in creating complex financial structures, the Fund’s design took these investor goals into account in two key ways: by ensuring losses are capped and that the process by which investments are made is transparent and effective.
Because the Fund is the first of its kind, the work required to put it together was significant. Potential investors faced uncertainty in the novelty of the new investment structure. Through a combination of pro bono support and reduced-fee arrangements, White & Case negotiated the terms and advised on the structure, risks and potential liabilities of the Fund and its investment manager.
Our work to help create the Global Health Investment Fund was "commended" for its innovation by the Financial Times in the social responsibility category of the FT North America Innovative Lawyers 2014 report.
"The potential impact of this work is both significant and difficult to calculate, as no investment vehicle on the scale of GHIF currently exists in healthcare," said Monica Arora, who leads the White & Case Investment Funds group and, with partner David Thatch, led the GHIF work. The Fund was popular with investors, which included governments, multilateral foundations, individuals and companies, and investments have begun to be made in specific projects. One example may be instructive: the meningitis vaccine MenAfriVac®, developed for use in Africa with philanthropic support. The vaccine was launched in 2010 at a cost of less than US$0.50 per dose. In less than three years, more than 100 million people in six sub-Saharan countries have been vaccinated, which studies have shown has all but eliminated meningitis A in many parts of the region.
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Our lawyers advised global NGO Avaaz on the legal risks involved in its campaign to solicit qualified medical volunteers for placement with partner health organizations providing care to people affected by the Ebola epidemic. We helped them understand the risks involved with soliciting volunteers for their partner organizations, collecting and screening the initial applications, transferring qualified applications to their partner NGOs, and remaining in contact with volunteers in the field to share lessons learned with all the NGOs in their membership.