Immediately following the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) Stakeholders’ Meeting on June 26, 2008, and in advance of the upcoming 2008 G8 Summit in Japan, DNDi released a statement endorsed by World Health Organization (WHO) urging the G8 governments to support both control programs and research & development (R&D) initiatives for neglected tropical diseases.
New and better-adapted treatments and diagnostics are needed for chronically endemic tropical diseases that have a significant impact on the lives of the poor, yet are neglected by the global public health agenda.
The statement calls upon the world’s wealthiest nations “to commit resources for appropriate and sustainable financial mechanisms to strengthen existing efforts and to support innovation required to meet the priority health needs of developing countries.”
For some of the neglected tropical diseases, large programs supported by public-private partnerships, including drug donations, provide effective and safe medicines which can be administered to at-risk populations with the aim of eventually eliminating the disease. Despite the fact that many low-cost and effective interventions are available to control some of these diseases, the majority of affected populations still do not have access due to lack of resources.
Furthermore, research is needed for new, practical and effective diagnostics and medicines. As the microbial world is constantly evolving, even the best control tools can lose their power if drug resistance develops or disease patterns change. Long-term investment is essential to develop better medicines, to prevent resistance, and to ensure sustainability.
Thus, DNDi urges the active participation of public institutions from developed countries to assist their counterparts in the developing world. According to Dr. Bernard Pécoul, DNDi’s Executive Director, “In order for the needs of neglected patients to be met, countries of the G8 must take measures to ensure that investment in research goes hand-in-hand with control program support.”
The full text of the statement is available below.
DNDi is an independent, non-profit product development partnership working to research and develop new and improved treatments for neglected diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness and Chagas Disease. With the objective to address unmet patient needs for these diseases, DNDi has developed the largest ever portfolio for the kinetoplastid diseases and has already released two new antimalarial medicines. The DNDi founding members are 5 research institutions: Institut Pasteur, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Foundation Oswaldo Cruz in Brazil, the Ministry of Health in Malaysia, and the humanitarian organisation Médecins sans Frontières. The special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) from WHO/UNICEF/World Bank acts as a permanenent observer to the initiative. For further information, please visit: www.dndi.org.
Joint DNDi and WHO Statement
Neglected tropical diseases continue to affect more than 1 billion people all over the world
Geneva – June 30, 2008 – Infectious and parasitic diseases – most of which are preventable and/or treatable – remain the primary cause of death worldwide. International attention is currently focused on HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, as well as on global health security. However, many other chronically endemic tropical diseases, which have a very significant negative impact on the lives of poor populations, are still very much neglected by the global public health agenda.
Most neglected tropical diseases(1) primarily affect poor and marginalized people who have few resources or possibilities to make a living. In developing countries, these diseases affect individuals, families, and entire communities. The high burden of disease and loss of productivity aggravate poverty and contribute to high cost of long-term care. Socioeconomic development and quality of life is affected at all levels. Improved control and prevention of these diseases will help to alleviate poverty and to reach the Millennium Development Goals.
For some of the neglected tropical diseases, large programmes supported by effective partnerships, including drug donations, provide effective and safe medicines which can be administered to at-risk populations in order to eventually eliminate the disease. Despite the fact that many low-cost and effective interventions are available to control some of these diseases, the majority of affected populations still do not have access to them due to a lack of resources.
Other diseases such as human African trypanosomiasis, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, and Buruli ulcer, present the greatest challenge for intensified control because no adequate tools exist: effective and adapted options for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment are needed.
Research is needed for new, practical and effective improved diagnostics and medicines and for effective ways to implement them. As the microbial world is constantly evolving, even the best control tools can lose their power if drug resistance develops or disease patterns change. Long-term investment is essential to develop better medicines, to prevent resistance, and to ensure this is not a one-off achievement.
Demanding technical requirements of existing therapeutic tools limit their use and require long hospital stays, with devastating consequences on livelihoods (particularly in subsistence-farming areas). Until simpler and safer drugs are developed, control efforts must remain extremely resource intensive and poorly suited to strategies for reaching those most in need.
Despite ongoing efforts of existing product development partnerships, the inadequacies of existing tools and of infrastructures to deliver them remain major constraints.
Patients deserve affordable and safe diagnostics and treatment. To control these diseases and to have an impact on health and poverty, investment in long-term research must go hand in hand with program support. Doing so will help fulfil the promise of ongoing positive trends, including the conviction – underlying many research, control, and intervention partnerships – that neglected tropical diseases can be eliminated when the world’s best tools and methodologies are made available to all at-risk populations.
In preparation for the 2008 G8 Summit in Japan, we ask you to support official inclusion of the following statement:
“Recognizing the importance of neglected diseases as global health, educational, and economic threats in developing countries, the G8 commits to support both neglected diseases’ control programs and research & development initiatives to develop new and better adapted treatments and diagnostics. Further to this, the G8 commits to recommend appropriate, sustainable financial mechanisms to strengthen existing efforts and to support innovation required to meet the priority health needs of developing countries.”
(1) The 13 parasitic and bacterial infections known as the neglected tropical diseases include three soil-transmitted helminthiasis (ascariasis, hookworm infections, and trichuriasis), lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease), schistosomiasis, Chagas’ disease, human African trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Buruli ulcer, leprosy, and trachoma. An expanded list could include dengue fever, the treponematoses, leptospirosis, strongyloidiasis, foodborne trematodiases, cysticercosis, and scabies, as well as other tropical infections.
Dr. Lorenzo Savioli
Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases
Dr. Bernard Pécoul
Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative