Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Trends: Development/Global Health in the Business Press

Over the past several months I have noticed what seems to be consistent coverage of development and/or global health issues by the business press. Almost every time I open up Fortune Magazine, Business Week, Forbes, or some other mainstream business publication there seems to be some coverage of the issues we care about (water, clean tech, etc.). You might ask – so what? For those in the public health world, yes “business” is a four letter word, but this is an important development (good and bad) because the private sector unlike never before is having an increasing impact on development and global health issues. Even the financial news channel, CNBC TV, has had consistent coverage of issues such as the global water crisis (probably largely due to one main proponent). To give you an idea of frequency and content covered, below the graph is a sample of articles I have seen in the major business news publications in just the past couple of months.

In addition I decided to do a very quick and dirty check of the number of publications listed on Google Scholar over the past decade to see if there has also been an increase in attention in the academic press. I searched using the following two terms:

“Global Health” and “Private Sector”
“Global Health” and “Business”

You can see the results in the below graph which again is a back of the envelope analysis that has flaws, but gives us a rough idea of changing content being published. In 1996, the use of those words “Global Health or Private Sector” and “Business” was almost non-existent and a decade later we see a tremendous increase that is 12-23 times greater (some of which can be attributed to SARS).


Back to changes by the business press, there seems to be no question that there is much greater interest in development and social issues compared to a decade ago. However, the majority of these articles seem to be clear that their interest is largely driven by profit, as the Smart Money July 2007 issue states: “It’s not a social or moral debate, it’s all economic…”

Business & Development Examples
1. Jeffery Sachs: “How I’d fix the World Bank”, link
Fortune Magazine 6.9.2007

2. Vitamin fortified super rice: “Eat Some Ultra Rice”, (PATH is featured in the article), link
Forbes Magazine 8.13.2007

3. Richard Branson’s Latest Venture, link, via
Business Week, 7.25.2007

4. BusinessWeek on BOP – A False Dichotomy? via NextBillion
Business Week 8.1.2007

5. SRI: Invest With Your Heart and Soul, link, via Philanthrophy 2173
Business Week, 7.31.2007

6. MTV Searches for Hope & Profit in Africa, link
Forbes, 6.18.2007

7. 5 Great Green Stocks, review here,
Barrons, 7.16.2007

8. Money Magazine August 2007 page 61: Full page color ad for (sorry no link to the ad)

9. “Reap profits & save the planet…Corporate America is responding to climate change considerably faster than the US.” Smart Money, June 2007 (sorry no link to article available, see print edition)

On a related note, definitely read this-
Environmentalism for Billionaires: “How businesses are looking to cash in on global warming with green-washed plans that aren’t as eco-friendly as they seem.”

Clean tech becomes big business (8/2/2007), link

While I am not aware of blogs that are mostly devoted to covering development or global health issues from a business perspective here are some blogs that have related content. If you know of any others please let me know:
The Heart of Business
Lunch over IP
Silicon Valley Microfinance Network
The Discomfort Zone

Written by Aman

August 9, 2007 at 7:12 pm

4 Responses

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  1. […] Trends: Development/Global Health in the Business Press (see for full post) […]

  2. […] to cover social issues including those specific to global health. See our previous post on “Trends: Development/Global Health in the Business Press” and another one here. And don’t forget what might have been a groundbreaking […]

  3. […] Posted by Aman on October 16th, 2007 Its great to see a generally conservative business magazine discussing positive, successful global health efforts in Africa. Forbes has 3 very recent pieces that are worth skimming. Again, this is yet another indication of increasing convergence of the social and business sectors that we had previously profiled (trends in global health coverage by the business press). […]

  4. […] Aman at Technology, Health & Development explores the frequency and content of business news stories focusing on development and global health. […]

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