The European Union should aim to lead innovation to fight infectious diseases in the developing world, speakers told a Friends of Europe event on 16 February.
The event, called Shaping the World, launched 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.
However, 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. Without a steady stream of funding from critical players like the EU, we will lose the significant advances the world has made in building a healthier, more prosperous and, ultimately, safer world for all people.”
Despite the overall decline, the private sector invested more than ever in 2015, said Nick Chapman of Policy Cures Research, which produced the report. “Both public funding and private funding are absolutely vital – it is impossible to make policy decisions without funding.”
Epidemic diseases are a reminder that the world shares certain problems and that individual countries cannot deal with them alone, added Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation. “If we want to keep our sovereignty, then we must stand up and accept our obligations,” he said. “We need to give global health ideas extra support – act, not react, and realise that our neighbours’ problems are our problems, especially in health."
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