So what models allow for rapid expansion? One that has gained attention is the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative,
which includes a network of ten clinics. The concept dates back to 1996, when Mark Kline, MD, of the Baylor College of Medicine
visited Romania and saw the desperate plight of children with AIDS there. With funding from Abbott's Step Forward program,
Kline rebuilt the crumbling Constanta Municipal Hospital. And within just a few years, mortality rates in HIV-positive children
dropped from 15 to three percent. The clinic worked so well that Abbott funded centers in Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and India—and
expects to announce another clinic in Africa shortly.
"Mark's work in Romania could be considered an UNAIDS best practice case study," says Reeta Roy, divisional vice president,
global citizenship and policy at Abbott. "We must create as many Romanias with as many people as possible to create the strongest
Back in 2000, the Accelerating Access Initiative (AAI) brought together competing companies to figure out how to reduce the
price of ARVs in nations hardest hit by AIDS. Today, almost half of all patients that access ARVs in Africa do so through
AAI programs—a testament to what companies can do when they work together. Other organizations also broker company relationships:
Partnership for Quality Medical Donations Twenty-one organizations, including 10 pharmas, comprise this membership organization that is dedicated to raising the global
standards for product donations.
Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS This group focuses on bringing business into the fight against AIDS and includes a special section for healthcare companies.
Companies have also been creating alliances on their own. Merck went into Romania early on to establish a foundation to the
fight: their funding helped health authorities understand the scope of the disease and develop Romania's first national AIDS
treatment guidelines. Abbott leveraged that groundwork by funding Mark Kline's pediatric AIDS clinic there. Then, BMS decided
to build two new clinics in Africa, working closely with Abbott to replicate the Romanian model's success.
Abbott has also worked closely with BI, in a venture where BI donated Viramune and Abbott donated the Determine rapid HIV
test. "That's an example where each company had a tool to help NGOs cut the risk of mother-to-child transmission of AIDS,"
Despite these joint efforts, there is still more work to be done. "Companies work with groups based on the relationships they
cultivate," says Dickson Opul, MD, who treats the HIV-positive working population in Uganda. "We don't see the effort as AAI,
but as individual companies."
To push programs to the next level, companies must work together to create common strategies and shared world views. In doing
so, they can secure their places as both innovators and global citizens by offering help to policy makers, who must tackle
even bigger, more systemic issues like poverty reduction and free trade.