The governments of Brazil and Kenya plan to propose the creation of an international fund to stimulate research on medicines to combat the so-called neglected diseases, which affect poor populations and, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), kill more than 35,000 people daily around the world.
This measure is part of a resolution proposal that will be presented by the president of the Osvaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), Paulo Buss, at the annual meeting of the WHO next month in Geneva, Switzerland.
The purpose of the proposal is to enlist the support of the 192 member countries of the WHO behind a global commitment to foment research that will lead to medicines and other solutions (such as vaccines and diagnostic kits) for this type of disease.
"These are the diseases that strike the world’s poorest areas and, because they do not interest the pharmaceutical industry, which cherishes profits, do not attract research investments," Buss observed.
Malaria, leishmaniasis, leprosy, (Hansen’s disease), tuberculosis, sleeping sickness, and Chagas’ disease are on the list of neglected diseases. All of them are typical of tropical areas, and their victims are overwhelmingly poor.
According to Buss, the remedies used to treat them are antiquated and ineffective. "No one is doing research in this area the way it should be done, with investment backing."
He pointed out that the world should heed the fact that "only 10% of research outlays go to diseases that affect 90% of the population."
In his view, there is an inversion in what is spent on research, which only focuses on certain problems, "generally the ones that exist in the developed countries and produce bigger profits."
The proposal was presented in Rio, Wednesday, April 5, at a panel organized by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDI), an international non-governmental organization devoted to health research and development.
The DNDI’s members include health research institutes from all over the world, such as the Fiocruz, in Brazil, and the Pasteur Institute, in France.