Encouraging governments to invest more on combatting the so-called neglected diseases is the main goal of the international campaign launched yesterday in Rio de Janeiro, London, and cities in Africa and Asia by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi).
The non-profit, non-governmental organization is made up of various entities and government research institutes, such as the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in Brazil and the Pasteur Institute in France.
The neglected diseases got this name because they are not the target of investments by either the private or the public sector, and they are diseases for which treatment is non-existent or the therapies, inadequate.
The principal diseases in this category are Chagas’ disease, leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness, malaria, and tuberculosis.
According to the DNDi coordinator for Latin America, Michel Lotrowska, the campaign is not being sponsored by the NGO alone.
Rather, it represents various partnerships that have come together to encourage governments and hold them responsible for investing in the development of treatments.
They include vaccines, drugs, and diagnostic tools that will help control these diseases, which are typical of poor countries, and others such as AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.
Lotrowska revealed that approximately 35 thousand people die each day from diseases that are neglected by the major pharmaceutical companies, because they occur in regions that are considered less profitable markets.
Moreover, of the 1,393 medications developed between 1975 and 1999, only 1% were for the treatment of tropical diseases and tuberculosis.
“There is little research to adapt the resources that exist for wealthier markets to the structures of poorer countries. What is created nowadays for AIDS is not suitable for developing countries, particularly the poorest ones. Everything is done with the structure of the First World in mind.”
The inauguration of the campaign in Rio counted on the presence of representatives of the DNDi, the Fiocruz, the NGO Physicians Without Frontiers, and victims of tropical diseases. Rio is the headquarters of the DNDi’s coordinating office for Latin America.