Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series
Edited by Anthony Payne and Nicola Phillips
Chapter 17: Innovation and the limits of rebranded privatisation in global health
Innovation has become a buzz-word in the political economy of governance. Whether used in the context of higher education reforms, investment in domestic manufacturing, beauty products for ageing populations, or solutions to climate change, this buzz-word is meant to reflect the emphasis on new ideas, new structures, new solutions and new forms of financing for contemporary global political issues. The use of innovation has been particularly popular in describing new forms of governance, funding, projects and approaches for tackling global health problems. New public-private partnerships, such as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI Alliance), describe themselves as innovative; Bill Gates has advocated the need for more innovation to solve global health problems; and philanthropic donors continue to set aside funds for researchers to innovate. Yet in these different contexts the meaning of the word 'innovation' remains slightly dubious: all that is certain is that people working in global health like to use it, and describing something as innovative is generally seen as positive. Conventionally, the word 'innovation' refers to the introduction of new ideas, methods or change, and is applied to describe research outcomes, new findings or something that the world needs more of.
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