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The European Union should step up its efforts to fight infectious diseases in the developing world as global public funding for neglected diseases stalls.
That was the message of a Friends of Europe event on 16 February called ‘Shaping the World’, which hosted the launch of the 2016 G‑FINDER report on global funding for research into neglected diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
These diseases kill nearly seven million people each year – mostly the world’s poorest people, and often due to a lack of effective tools for prevention, diagnosis and treatment. But G-FINDER reported that neglected disease R&D fell in 2015 for the third consecutive year – down two percent to US$3.04bn.
“Today’s report shows that the European Commission and European governments are critical public funders of global health R&D,” said Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which helped finance the report. “They have led the way in creating new opportunities for public and private sectors to work together to address the burden of disease for the world’s poorest people. I hope that the Commission will prioritise global health research and development for the developing world as it starts to plan for its new research framework and funding.”
He said a steady stream of funding from critical players like the EU is essential to maintain recent significant advances in building a healthier, more prosperous and safer world. “The total is disappointing: that is, the amount of research on these neglected diseases has not gone up; it’s even gone down somewhat. The report is reminder that everyone contributes, but we need to figure out how to bring in more resources.”