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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
SWITZERLAND: WHO Agrees to Address Research on Neglected Diseases

May 30, 2012
Agence France Presse (05.26.12) - Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The World Health Organization agreed Saturday to meet later this year to address inequities in research and funding for some of the developing world's deadliest diseases. Member countries will review an expert panel's recommendations for a binding convention addressing neglected tropical diseases, TB, and others under-represented in research.

Earlier, the WHO decision-making body - the World Health Assembly - met in Geneva and produced the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi). It asks WHO Director-General Margaret Chan to "hold an open-ended member states meeting in order to analyze the report and the feasibility of the recommendations." The DNDi asks governments and the private sector to increase health research funding for diseases more greatly affecting developing countries, calls for a "global binding instrument" granting developing countries access to needed drugs and technologies, and suggests member countries commit 0.01 percent of their GDP to fund the work.

Michelle Childs, policy director of Doctors Without Borders' (DWB) access campaign, was "disappointed" there was not an immediate move toward a research and development convention; however, she noted countries' agreement to formalize consideration of the recommendations and report to WHO by January.

DWB maintains that existing resources are cost-prohibitive and fail to meet the needs of developing countries, such as more effective treatments for drug-resistant TB, pediatric versions of HIV medicines, and vaccines not requiring refrigeration.

"At this time of financial crisis," said DNDi spokesperson Jean-Francois Alesandrini, "strong public commitment is needed to ensure new and adapted medical tools are made available, at an affordable price to neglected patients in developing countries."