Welcome to Episode 69 of Good Will Hunters from the Development Policy Centre. Today’s guest is Mark Sullivan.
Mark is a drug development expert and the founder of Medicines Development for Global Health. Along with his colleague John Reeder, Mark was featured in the Development Policy Centre’s Aid Profile Series in 2019 and was nominated for the Mitchell Humanitarian Award, which he they jointly won in Canberra in February of this year.
Mark’s Aid Profile, authored by Robin Davies of the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Security, detailed the incredible efforts Mark and John have undertaken to end river blindness, a debilitating and historically neglected diseases afflicting tens of millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In this episode we discuss what river blindness is, and why some diseases are neglected by the pharmaceutical sector. Mark explains why he founded a not for profit organisation dedicated to developing drugs that are unlikely to be commercially viable in the long term. We discuss moxidectin, the drug Mark has developed to treat river blindness.
It’s a fascinating insight into the drug research, development and licensing process, and the pivotal role that both the WHO and the FDA play in this equation, plus a great example of how the aid effort and the private sector can work together for transformational development outcomes, especially in Australia where we have so much medical expertise.
Although we recorded this episode in mid-february before we knew that coronavirus would be declared a pandemic by the WHO, this is a very topical episode. Mark shines a light on how equipped global health systems are to respond to disease outbreaks, and how this manifestly different in more developed and less developed countries.
As well as disease outbreaks, this episode looks at health equity and how Mark has dedicated his career to using his very technical skillset to make big changes to healthcare accessibility globally. Moving forward, Mark is turning his attention even more to diseases here in Australia, including scabies which continues to afflict Indigenous communities.
We’re proud to present this episode from the Development Policy Centre, a leading think tank for aid and development at the Australian National University serving Australia, the region and the global development community.
Check out all the Centre’s Aid Profiles at devpolicy.org/aidprofiles. If you know someone whose made an outstanding contribution to development, nominate them for a future Aid profile by writing to [email protected]
The GWH Team