MR.CARDIN. Mr. President, I rise today to discuss the Global Development Lab and the legislation I am introducing along with Senators Boozman, Coons and Isakson that codifies the Global Development Lab and provides the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with the flexibility it needs to make the Lab the gold standard in global development innovation.
This year, the Office of Science & Technology and the Office of Innovation & Development Alliances at USAID were abolished to pave the way for the Global Development Lab – a new approach to invest, test, and bring to scale more effective solutions to the world’s biggest development challenges.
The Global Development Lab partners with entrepreneurs, experts, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), universities, and science and research institutions to solve development challenges in a faster, more cost-efficient, and more sustainable way. The Lab utilizes a pay-for-success model, which uses science, technology, and innovation-driven competitions to expand the number and diversity of solutions to development challenges. This means that instead of issuing grants or contacts, USAID can give a competitor an award only after the objectives of the competition have been achieved.
The Lab already has an impressive 32 cornerstone partners. These partners are businesses, NGOs, foundations, universities, and governments – all of whom are committed to sharing information and expertise and to bringing innovative development projects to scale. I am pleased that two Maryland-based organizations, Johns Hopkins University and Catholic Relief Services, are cornerstone partners of the Global Development Lab. Catholic Relief Services intends to work with the Lab on food security, global health, climate change, energy, and information and communications technology, and it is already using geographic information systems in Haiti to map schools and education programs across the country to better improve education interventions. Johns Hopkins University plans to partner with the Lab on improving health care and access to clean and affordable water and energy.
The Global Development Lab makes sense: America has a proud history of achieving unprecedented gains for humanity through science and technology. Evidence has shown that when we harness American science, innovation and entrepreneurship, we achieve the greatest leaps in social and economic development.
For example, ninety percent of new HIV infection in children is a result of mother-to-child transmission at birth. When newborns receive antiretroviral drugs at a clinic or hospital within 24 hours of birth, their chances of contracting HIV go from 45 percent to less than 5 percent. In regions where pregnant mothers do not have adequate access to medical facilities, getting newborns antiretroviral treatment is challenging. In response to this challenge, Dr. Robert Malkin and his students at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering and Duke’s Global Health Institute – also Cornerstone Partners – designed the Pratt Pouch, a low-cost foil pouch that preserves a premeasured dose of antiretroviral medication for up to a year without requiring refrigeration. The pouch ensures accurate pediatric dosing and can be given to mothers to take home with them before birth. Mothers then simply tear open the pouch and squeeze the medication directly into their newborn’s mouth, eliminating the need for a syringe and a health professional and ultimately reducing the likelihood of mother-to-child transmission of HIV at birth.
This type of innovation is exciting and is exactly what we hope to see more of as we scale up the Global Development Lab and empower it to be the world’s most innovative incubator of global development projects.