The annual G-FINDER report, published on the first World NTD Day, showed that global funding for neglected disease research and development (R&D) rose to $4 billion in 2018, the highest level ever recorded, and the first time that funding has grown for three consecutive years.
However, funding for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) has been essentially flat for the past decade. In fact, it has gone backwards: funding for these diseases was almost 10% lower in 2018 than it was 2009, dropping by $34m, or 9.1%.
“Flatlined funding for NTDs is proof that the world is not paying enough attention to the biomedical needs of the most vulnerable,” said Dr Nathalie Strub-Wourgaft, DNDi Director of Neglected Tropical Diseases. “It will be impossible to alleviate poverty, or achieve gender equity, quality universal health coverage, or any of the other Sustainable Development Goals without urgent course correction, and increased, sustained investment in R&D for NTDs.”
Leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and sleeping sickness, for example, together accounted for just 4% of global funding, while only $0.9 million was spent on mycetoma R&D in 2018.
“It is only the sustained, long-term commitment of numerous donors that make medical breakthroughs possible, such as the development by DNDi of fexinidazole – the first all-oral, short course treatment for both stages of sleeping sickness, and a pleasant-tasting, new fixed-dose combination of four antiretrovirals for young children with HIV,” Dr Strub-Wourgaft said.
The G-FINDER report provides policy-makers, donors, researchers, and industry with a comprehensive analysis of global investment into R&D of new products to prevent, diagnose, control, or cure neglected diseases in developing countries. It gives an up-to-date analysis of how R&D investments are being allocated across 36 neglected diseases, and product types, funding trends over time, and where the potential gaps lie. In 2018, mycetoma, snakebite envenoming, and hepatitis B, were included in the report for the first time.
Photo credit: Ana Ferreira-DNDi