Poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs) are infectious diseases that disproportionally affect the world’s poorest people, where the private sector does not have enough of an incentive to develop urgently-needed new products.

The report argues that poverty-related and neglected diseases account for 13.7 million deaths and the loss of 377 million healthy life years annually worldwide. Yet only 10 per cent of worldwide health research expenditure is used to address these diseases, which include HIV & AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis – three of the most deadly infectious diseases worldwide. Research and Development (R&D) in global health has led to many new treatments, with 43 new registered products, including a pneumonia vaccine and new malaria drugs. EU researchers are working on almost 150 PRND products in development (40% of all products in the pipeline), some of which promise equally impressive health benefits. These include new tuberculosis vaccines, malaria drugs that are safe for pregnant women, and the first-ever vaccines for malaria, dengue fever and HIV.

Europe is home to many of the world’s leading specialist tropical medical institutes - including Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, France’s Institut Pasteur, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Germany’s Bernard Nocht Institute - which have been the source of many critical scientific breakthroughs in global health, and whose scientists have received five Nobel Prizes for infectious disease research.

Beyond improving excellence in science and saving lives, funding for R&D in poverty-related and neglected diseases creates jobs. The study found that 13,000 new jobs were created in this area of disease research between 2002 and 2010. These are exactly the types of jobs needed in Europe to achieve the “SMART” dimension of Europe 2020. Sixty-six cents of every €1 invested by EU governments in poverty-related and neglected diseases R&D is reinvested back into European laboratories, universities and companies.

The study launch and subsequent panel discussion took place in the context of the Eighth European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, called Horizon 2020, which is currently taking shape at the European Union level. Horizon 2020 will guide the allocation of EU funding for research and innovation for the period 2014 through to 2020. This encompasses all funding for research and development into PRNDs, including commitments towards the second phase of the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership. The launch also included a breakfast debate hosted by MEP Maria da Graça Carvalho.

RECOMMENDATIONS

- 1. The EU should increase its investments in PRND R&D under Horizon 2020.

- 2. The EU should retain and foster the distinctive benefits of its approach to funding PRND R&D, including a focus on collaboration and partnerships, supporting capacity building in developing countries, promoting institutional excellence and integrating industry.

- 3. The EU should improve specific aspects of its investment in PRND R&D, to ensure greater efficiency, impact and value. This can be achieved through streamlining conditions and processes, taking a more results-driven approach to collaboration and increasing coordination at all levels.

- Full Study - Saving Lives and Creating Impact: EU investment in poverty-related neglected diseases

- Video accompanying the study.


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Last modified on September 29 2012.