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Guest Blog: Call for Scale-up of R&D for Neglected Diseases

By Oliver Yun, Medical Editor, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, New York, NY


Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) issued a call today for ramping up funding and governmental support for R&D to combat neglected diseases. Related research appears in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, among other journals, and we applaud such publications for bringing much-needed attention to these overlooked diseases, which primarily affect the world’s poor and neglected populations.

In the field, MSF faces numerous neglected diseases, both endemically, such as sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis), kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis), and Chagas disease; and epidemically, including cholera, meningitis, and measles. Developing and improving the tools to diagnose, treat, and prevent these diseases require numerous resources, not the least of which is financial. The first three diseases alone put more than 500 million people at risk of infection.

Two recent reports estimated global and US funding at $2.5 billion and $366 million, respectively, for neglected-disease R&D: the February 2009 George Institute for International Health’s Global Funding of Innovation for Neglected Diseases (G-FINDER) study, financed by the Gates Foundation and published in part in PLoS Medicine; and the December 2008 Families USA report “The World Can’t Wait: More Funding Needed for Research on Neglected Infectious Diseases,” which focused on eight diseases and four US government agencies.

These highly informative yet troubling reports, coupled with today’s call to action, serve as stark reminders for the urgent need for increased funding into R&D for the world’s most neglected diseases. Without action, these diseases will continue to exact their silent, devastating toll.

You can read the full MSF/DNDi press release here:


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