The UN Secretary General has a High Level Panel on Access to Medicines. Helen Clark, the Administrator (Chief Executive) of UNDP and a former prime Minister of New Zealand, recorded a video for the panel members. She discussed UNDP’s accomplishments in getting the price of medicines cut for African countries, including Equatorial Guinea. Equatorial Guinea is Africa’s richest country with a PPP-adjusted per capita GDP of about US$30,000. I couldn’t resist commenting on it

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I shouldn’t really have been surprised at what happened next: these days, lots of important people reply to commentators as insignificant as me. But I still was

 

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The former New Zealand PM is obviously polite too. Her final Tweet was this

 

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I’m writing the story partly to illustrate what a nice woman Helen Clark is but more to show just how much policy dialogue has changed in the Twitter age. This kind of exchange isn’t unusual: it happens all the time. For example, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, the CEO of Biocon and one of the most significant figures in the global biotech industry, got into a Twitter discussion last week. It was about the sensitive subject of import duties on foreign medicines. It was with a young Tweeter who supports the current BJP government. (She suggested a few novel violations of WTO trade rules along the way)

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Most big organisations just can’t cope in a world this informal and this immediate. It takes most of our clients weeks to come up with a policy statement. The title is usually longer than 140 characters

It’s unlikely the private sector, with its legions of lawyers, can keep up. @HelenClarkUNDP and @GaviSeth are among the few leaders of global organisation who are confident and nimble enough to make the most of the new era.