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  • Brazil and Kenya push for neglected-disease research


[RIO DE JANEIRO] Brazil and Kenya will call for an international fund for research on 'neglected diseases' at a World Health Organization meeting next month.

The diseases, which include leishmaniasis, malaria and sleeping sickness, kill more than 35,000 people each day in developing countries but get little attention from the global scientific community.

Paulo Buss, president of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), a Brazilian research centre, will propose the fund at the World Health Organization's annual policy-setting meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

The proposal urges the 192 World Health Organization member countries to commit funds for research on new drugs, vaccines and diagnostic kits.

It also suggests simplifying systems for protecting intellectual property to make new health innovations more accessible to people in developing countries.

Medicines to treat these diseases tend to be old and are often ineffective, but the pharmaceutical industry has little incentive to research new drugs as patients and health systems in developing countries would be unlikely to afford them.

"Only ten per cent of research investments go to the diseases that affect 90 per cent of the [world] population," said Buss at a meeting of the international Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative in Rio de Janeiro on 5 April.

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative's members include health research institutes from across the world, including FIOCRUZ, the Kenya Medical Research Institute and the Pasteur Institute, France.

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