Bill Gates joins EU for health

Nieuws | de redactie
13 juni 2013 | Safe, effective and affordable medicines for many poverty-related diseases are still lacking. Therefore the EU and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will work together on R&D of life-saving medicines. “This will represent a big step forward for the millions who suffer from poverty-related diseases."

The EU and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will work together to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other poverty-related diseases that together affect more than a billion people worldwide. The agreement, signed by Bill Gates and Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, creates a new strategic partnership for research in this area.

More than a billion people

Poverty-related diseases have huge negative impacts on health, society and economic growth in many countries. They particularly affect the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities. More than 1 billion people, including 400 million children, suffer from one or more of the three major poverty-related diseases, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation already supports the work of the Gavi Alliance on this field for years. Together they run large immunization programs in countries that are hit hardest by these poverty-related diseases in order to improve the future of 22 million unimmunized children.

AIDS alone kills an estimated 2 million people every year, while malaria and tuberculosis together kill an estimated 2.2 million people. EU-president Herman van Rompuy underlines the importance of the European Union in this kind of projects, as “the largest soft power in the world”, in his interview with ScienceGuide.

“The fight against major poverty-related diseases is also increasingly turning into a global health problem”, the new partners state. “Growing global mobility, including tourism and migration, means that any country in the world could face new or returning challenges from infectious diseases. Global warming and the emergence of drug resistances is further changing the prevalence and distribution of these diseases worldwide.”

Get the medicines to the people that suffer

Research on poverty-related infectious diseases will be boosted with around 2.4 billion euro. The partnership will invest in research and development of life-saving interventions to improve the health and well-being of people living in developing countries. In addition to accelerating the development of much-needed drugs, vaccines and diagnostics, the two organizations will also seek to improve affordable and sustainable pathways to ensure that these products quickly reach those in greatest need.

Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said, “Our goal in this new partnership is to work together to develop at least one new and better health product per year. This will represent a big step forward for the millions who suffer from poverty-related diseases.”

“With sufficient resources and political commitment, we can together improve the lives of millions before the end of this decade,” said Mr. Gates. “The foundation is completely committed to supporting efforts to develop life-saving products to help solve some of the world’s toughest problems. Partnership with the Commission and other funders is critical to the success of our common mission.”

Global health innovation

A special focus of the partnership will be on tuberculosis, where new drugs, vaccines and scientific approaches are needed to tackle the epidemic and counter the emergence of drug-resistant tuberculosis strains.

The partnership won’t solely focus on well-known diseases, but also includes action on diseases like diarrheal diseases, Buruli ulcer, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis and sleeping sickness. To recognize and reward innovations that contribute to global health a special global health innovation prize will be added at the 2014 Innovation Convention.

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