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Gates Foundation Supports Social Enterprise to Expand Access to Medical Technology in Global South

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By Our Reporter

A group, led by the Soros Economic Development Fund (SEDF), with support from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has launched a social enterprise, Global Access Health (GAH), which seeks to expand access to affordable state-of-the-art medical technology through decentralized research, development, and manufacturing in the Global South.

The group has financed the acquisition of Mologic Ltd, an innovator in the development of lateral flow and rapid diagnostic technologies including tests that can help combat tropical diseases such as dengue, bilharzia, river blindness and COVID-19.

The members of GAH will invest at least £30 million ($41 million) in this deal.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has painfully demonstrated the fundamental inequities in global public health, and in particular the crucial importance of access in low- and middle-income countries to low-price, high-quality life-saving diagnostic tools. In this unique transaction, philanthropic funds and investors are working together with a skilled and visionary management team in a truly innovative way to address at least one part of that failure by enabling a cutting-edge commercial business to focus all its resources on solving one of the world’s most pressing public health issues,” said Sean Hinton, SEDF’s Chief Executive Officer.

Also commenting, Mark Davis, CEO of Mologic, said, “Mologic’s transition into a social enterprise is a deliberate, logical and natural step for a company focused on delivering affordable diagnostics and biotechnology to places that have been left underserved by the relentless pursuit of profiteering. With the support of our shareholders, donors and partners we have come a long way; we believe we have the people and the skills required for the challenges and opportunities ahead. And we hope this unique transaction will be an example for others to follow.”

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“Testing, or diagnostics, are vital for every day public health needs, to enable doctors and medical professionals to provide patients with proper treatment as early as possible,” said Roxana Bonnell, a public health expert at the Open Society Foundations. “As we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, access to testing is absolutely essential when it comes to containing the spread of contagious disease—an issue that ultimately affects us all.”

As part of the transaction GAH will integrate both Mologic and a sister non-profit entity, Global Access Diagnostics (GAD), which was established by the founders of Mologic with support from SEDF, the UK’s DFID and others in April 2020.

GAD is focused on low-cost manufacturing of diagnostic tests, and licenses Mologic’s technology in Africa and South Asia.

A number of other philanthropic funds and investors are currently engaged in finalizing their participation in GAH to further the scope and ambition of the organisation.

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