Business philanthropy is having an impressive impact on some of the most pressing global health issues. Increasingly, a lot of successful entrepreneurs and business people are diverting a proportion of their funds towards measures to tackle healthcare issues – often via research institutes, non-profits, and global charities. There are a number of different ways in which business philanthropists operate, and there are some key figures making a real difference to the world’s health problems.
Major healthcare problems that have been or are being tackled in parts of the globe include AIDS, black fever, Ebola fever, malaria, and polio. Cancer is known to affect more people in low-income and middle-income countries than tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria combined.
The World Health Organization has published statistical information on sight impairment demonstrating that 285 million people are affected worldwide, and that 80% of all visual impairments can be prevented. Additionally, 360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss, and in 50% of cases, primary prevention is possible.
The role of philanthropists
It is often the case that individual philanthropists wishing to fund healthcare will focus on and ultimately select a cause or charity that is important to them personally – in many ways a sensible move as it has been said that trying to support too many problems at once can dilute the effect of giving.
For example, the Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research at the University of Iowa was created to study issues surrounding visual impairment in order to work towards eradicating heritable blindness. Wynn has developed a condition known as retinitis pigmentosa, resulting in impaired night vision and poor peripheral vision. The research program includes provision of education as well as clinical care. Steve Wynn is an entrepreneur with business interests in the luxury hotel and casino industry. He is well known for having reinvigorated the Las Vegas Strip, attracting new upscale clientele in the process.
Bob Johnson,multimillionaire co-founder of Black Entertainment Television,opted for an unusual fundraising opportunity. He decided to raise money for charity Malaria No More – in the form of funding the manufacture of a tie that was specifically created to show the African continent woven into what is known as a tone-on-tone design.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has contributed almost $2 billion to polio researchand also measures to support successful elimination of diseases such as AIDS, malaria, and measles as well as the reduction of child mortality rates. The foundation places an emphasis on the production and distribution of new vaccines and the reduction of death rates of children in poorer countries.
Supporting global healthcare
The fact that business leaders are in a position of influence means they can draw a great deal of attention to key healthcare problems and issues. In addition, the funding they are in a position to provide can result in the identification of innovative and lower-cost solutions. When corporate donations fill the gaps in research budgets, for example, by providing equipment or additional expertise, it’s possible to make healthcare solutions accessible to everyone. This keeps facilities up to date, allows hospitals to offer more advanced care programs, and benefits entire communities.
What is particularly encouraging is the revolution that business philanthropy has brought to healthcare –some non-profit groups have been funded to a level that has enabled them to be successful in finding affordable, low-cost cures for diseases. Even small businesses can help contribute to solving some of the world’s healthcare issues in simple ways, such as making annual donations to an organization providing health benefits. In the end, philanthropy helps a business to become more involved with important issues in its local community alongside demonstrating the fact that it is a caring and ethical company.