Global Health: Our Window to the World

There’s been a lot of buzz about the region’s growing global health industry over the last two years, and for good reason: with the largest philanthropic investor in this industry in the world (Gates Foundation) here in our backyard, combined with leading research institutions in global health (University of Washington’s School of Global Health, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute) and internationally-recognized service delivery organizations (PATH), we’re pretty well situated to become THE epicenter for this industry in the world. But a lot of people are still confused as to how a cluster that’s focused on helping the world’s poorest people survive the world’s most widespread diseases translates into economic prosperity for our region.

Of course, you can start by answering that question directly with an economic impact study: approximately $4.1 billion. But I think that might actually be too literal an answer. You probably saw that the Washington Global Health Alliance just completed a mapping project that shows 1) where our locally-based global health organizations have facilities worldwide and 2) how many research projects are taking place in each country. It’s already impressive, and this first run at the project doesn’t include all the work being funded by the Gates Foundation around the world that doesn’t involve local partners.

I thought that Lisa Cohen, the WGHA director, had a great point about the economic development implications of these global outposts: “Mapping the network also could help state businesses and nonprofits get connected to opportunities in places where global health projects have paved the way, such as China and India, Cohen said.” We already know that we’re one of the most trade-dependent states in the entire country, and that these developing nations are going to increasingly become huge markets for our products – from agriculture to software to airplanes. Building stronger relationships with the government and citizens of these countries can’t hurt.

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3 Responses to Global Health: Our Window to the World

  1. ericschinfeld says:

    Someone just pointed out this article (http://features.csmonitor.com/economyrebuild/2009/11/20/new-economy-cities-a-seattle-slew-of-advantages/) that also quotes Lisa Cohen on the potential growth of this industry in our region. “Double or triple in size during the next five years.” (!)

  2. ericschinfeld says:

    Wow, everyone’s getting in on the action: http://seattle.bizjournals.com/seattle/stories/2009/11/23/story10.html. Looks like even students are excited about the opportunities…“You cannot overstate the energy and enthusiasm on university campuses today with students who want to work on global health issues,” said UW President Mark Emmert, in a statement.

  3. ericschinfeld says:

    One last point on this topic: the Global Health industry in our region is connected to a broader “global development sector” here that addresses other global issues such as poverty, the environment and technology access. You can see a short report here on that impact to our local economy and on some of the world’s most pressing issues: http://globalwa.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/Folio_web_FINAL.pdf

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