Agenda item 11: Road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021–2030
Many of the EB154 agenda items provide an opportunity for action on NTDs, including agenda item 12: ‘Acceleration towards the Sustainable Development Goal targets for maternal health and child mortality’ and agenda item 22: ‘Climate change and Health’. Member States should ensure that appropriate links are made. For example, many climate-sensitive diseases are also NTDs, and the lack of inclusion of women and children in R&D hinders the advancement of health within these populations.
Despite progress towards elimination for some NTDs, safer, more effective, more affordable patient-friendly treatments and better diagnostics are needed. They must be appropriate for use in primary healthcare settings, close to affected communities, to reach elimination and eradication goals and to achieve UHC.
Advancements in R&D during the progress report period have shown that progress is possible, including in research for new treatments for sleeping sickness, mycetoma, and leishmaniasis. Building on this, we urge Member States to sustainably invest in R&D for all effective health tools, including by supporting not-for-profit models.
Agenda item 12: Acceleration towards the Sustainable Development Goal targets for maternal health and child mortality
We welcome the draft resolution and its proposed language calling for increased research and development of health tools to address the specific medical needs of women and children, which are often neglected.
Children are not small adults. They require specific formulations of drugs, which are often either not developed or delayed for up to a decade. Additionally, there are gaps in knowledge of the impact of medicines on biological females, especially those who may become or are pregnant, or who are lactating, as they are often excluded from clinical trials. Lack of inclusion of women and children in R&D delays access to treatments. For example, less than half of the medicines used to treat NTDs can be used in children.
We welcome the ongoing work of the Global Accelerator for Paediatric Formulations Network – GAP-f – to promote innovation of and access to medicines for children and call for support for its activities, including prioritizing R&D for priority products on the WHO PADO list.
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative welcomes the proposed resolution.
Drug-resistant infectious diseases can affect anyone, of any age and, in any country. It is vital that all countries both, here, and at the High-Level Meeting on AMR commit to and support action-orientated, results-based outcomes to address AMR. This includes support for innovative initiatives for research and development for and access to new and existing therapeutics, vaccines, and diagnostic tools, and other critical public health interventions, like infection prevention and control, and improved laboratory capacity.
Meaningful change can be achieved with sufficient political will and resources. GARDP, an innovative antibiotic research and development partnership, co-founded by DNDi and the WHO illustrates what is possible. It is on target making positive progress towards reaching its goal of developing 5 antibiotic treatments by 2025, including the recent positive results from a global clinical phase 3 trial for a new first-in-class antibiotic to treat drug-resistant gonorrhoea.
We urge Member States to support resolution adoption.
Agenda item 22: Climate change, pollution and health
Climate change is threatening progress towards the control and elimination of infectious diseases by impacting their geographical range, seasonality, and incidence – as we are seeing with dengue in many countries. However, investments in measures such as disease surveillance and vector control, while important, will not suffice. Availability of and equitable access to tools to test and treat climate-sensitive diseases are vital to building resilient communities and health systems.
Our experience in developing treatments for NTDs, many of which are also climate-sensitive, illustrates that, without concerted action, tools to tackle climate-sensitive infectious diseases will not be available for all – impacting the most vulnerable populations. Affected communities must also be involved in R&D.
We welcome and urge countries to support the proposed language in the draft resolution on ‘Climate change and health’ calling for R&D for new health tools to prevent, test, and treat climate-sensitive infectious diseases.
Agenda 23: Economic and health for all
DNDi was established to address a chronic challenge in meeting the R&D needs of neglected populations.
Many challenges with the R&D system identified by the Council are not new. They are acute examples of chronic failures to develop and ensure equitable access to health tools that we, countries, and communities have faced, and worked to overcome, for decades. But political and commercial choices made during COVID-19 further entrenched the status quo. As the Council stated, the resulting inequities were ‘not just a moral failure’, but also a ‘health and economic catastrophe’.
We therefore agree with recommendations calling for re-orientation of health innovation governance for the common good.
We support the Council’s recommendation that governments should use their leverage to negotiate clear terms and conditions to ensure development of and equitable access to health technologies. There is considerable public funding for research, and funders should therefore secure a public return on their investments, including via the negotiation of the Pandemic Accord.