African trypanosomiasis has been labelled as a ‘tool-deficient’ disease. This article reflects on the role that Product Development Partnerships (PDPs) have played in delivering new tools and innovations for the control and elimination of the African trypanosomiases. We analysed three product development partnerships—DNDi, FIND and GALVmed—that focus on delivering new drugs, diagnostic tests, and animal health innovations, respectively. We interviewed key informants within each of the organisations to understand how they delivered new innovations. While it is too early (and beyond the scope of this article) to assess the role of these three organisations in accelerating the elimination of the African trypanosomiases, all three organisations have been responsible for delivering new innovations for diagnosis and treatment through brokering and incentivising innovation and private sector involvement. It is doubtful that these innovations would have been delivered without them. To varying degrees, all three organisations are evolving towards a greater brokering role, away from only product development, prompted by donors. On balance, PDPs have an important role to play in delivering health innovations, and donors need to reflect on how best to incentivise them to focus and continue to deliver new products.
- product development partnerships
- research and development
- medical innovation
- donor policy
- African trypanosomiasis